With the Ryder Cup set to return to European soil in 2018 at Le Golf National, a European Tour Destination just outside of Paris, excitement is already starting to build.
Fans who want to purchase tickets to support European Captain Thomas Bjørn and his team will be able to register in spring and purchase in autumn, when the countdown to the 42nd Ryder Cup will begin in earnest.
Thousands of fans made the journey to Gleneagles in 2014 to get behind Team Europe as they claimed their third consecutive victory. Another strong European contingent will be expected when the Ryder Cup returns to mainland Europe for the first time since 1997 and the Seve Ballesteros-inspired victory at Real Club Valderrama.
Le Golf National hosts the HNA Open de France
What better way to get a taste of what’s to come in 2018 than seeing Le Golf National host one of the European Tour’s new prestigious Rolex Series events, the HNA Open de France. Since 2002, the impressive 7331-yard course has hosted France’s national Open every year and will again welcome back some of the game’s finest this year. In 2017, someone else will get the chance to join a decorated roll call of winners that includes former Ryder Cup stars Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.
Le Golf National will also host the European Senior Tour’s Paris Legends Championship in September, exactly one year out from the start of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
The points race begins
There’s one date in particular that Europe’s elite will be keeping an eye out for this year. When the first event to offer Ryder Cup qualification points is confirmed, the chance to make the 12-man team will begin to feel real. In 2015, the M2M Russian Open was the first event to offer points to qualify for Darren Clarke’s European side.
The cut-off point for earning points in 2016 came at the Made in Denmark tournament in August. Could that be the event that kicks off this year’s race to qualify? Given Bjørn’s nationality, it seems fitting that proceedings might get underway on his home patch. With the iconic 16th hole, also known as Himmerland Hill, likely to be as vibrant as ever, it might just be the perfect location to begin the Ryder Cup countdown.
Marking the occasion in Paris
As one of the central cultural hubs in Europe, Paris will certainly put on a show when it comes to marking the 365-day countdown to the opening tee shot of the 2018 Ryder Cup. The French capital is home to some of the most iconic architectural landmarks on the planet, including the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, meaning spectacle is almost a guarantee.
As is common practice now, the respective captains will travel to the host city for a photocall and to discuss together one of the most hotly anticipated events in world sport. With Paris as the setting, the possibilities for marking this significant date in style are endless.
A chance to gain momentum
There may well be eight months for players to prove their worth to Captain Bjørn at the start of 2018, but why wait? There’s no doubt 2017 should be used as a springboard to gain some momentum heading into the big year, particularly for those yet to experience a Ryder Cup. That’s exactly what Thomas Pieters, Matt Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan did at the tail-end of 2015.
A week after the points race began in Russia, Pieters claimed his second European Tour win in three weeks to surge up the respective rankings lists. Fitzpatrick was a homecoming hero at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports, claiming his first win on tour in the process to impress Darren Clarke, before Sullivan rounded off his superb year, that included two other victories, at the Portugal Masters. Bjørn will have eyes and ears everywhere – so why wait?
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