Sport Golf

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ryder Cup gets taste of La Dolce Vita as Rome wins 2022 bid

Two-time Ryder Cup winner Francesco Molinari
Two-time Ryder Cup winner Francesco Molinari
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

The cost of Italy's successful bid to stage the 2022 Ryder Cup match between Europe and the USA will ultimately total in excess of €120 million - and it will be worth the price.

Worldwide exposure, advance publicity and marketing opportunities for the next six years, and a boost for the country's golfing product are just some of the benefits of winning the right to stage the Cup ahead of Austria, Germany, and Spain.

European Tour players can also look forward to enhanced prize funds for 11 years at the Italian Open, beginning in 2017, a clause which was a key part of the negotiations.

As an appetiser, the prize fund for the Italian Open will double in 2016, from €1.5 million this year to €3 million.

Thereafter it rises to €7 million a year up to and including 2027. That €77 million commitment is a basic investment.

Add in the costs of a complete overhaul and upgrade of the course at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, situated just 17km from Rome, plus ancillary investments and it's easy to see how the €100 million mark will easily be surpassed.

But in sporting terms, even if the outlay reached €130-€160 million, that figure represents the cost of buying just three or four top-class soccer players.

For example, Gonzalo Higuain cost Napoli around €40 million when they bought him from Real Madrid two years ago.

The Ryder Cup effect will last way longer than Higuain's career and be of more value on a national level for Italy in terms of golf tourism and reputation.

Italian two-time Ryder Cup winner Francesco Molinari said that as well as hosting the European-American clash the event would have a major impact on golf in the country.

"It is amazing. It is great news for golf in Italy and golf in general," he stated.

"It is a great chance for Italy but also the Ryder Cup as well to showcase one of the great European cities."

Ironically, the announcement of Rome as the venue for Ryder Cup 2022 is good news for The K Club - because the Straffan golf resort will continue to bask in the glory of being the only Irish Ryder Cup host for years to come.

September 22, 2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of day one of the 2006 match between Europe and the USA held on the Palmer Course at The K Club. By then, the brainchild of Dr Michael Smurfit will have staged its first Irish Open, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and the Rory McIlroy Foundation (May 19-22, 2016), but it will always be associated with the Ryder Cup.

No Irish contender came forward to bid for 2022, so the next possible opening for a challenger to The K Club's status as a European 'home' venue would be 2026.

The Ryder Cup roster is now: 2016 - Hazeltine National, Minnesota; 2018 - Le Golf National, Paris; 2020 - Whistling Straits, Minnesota; 2022 - the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome.

Irish Independent

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