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The Ryder Cup Is in France, but Where Are the French?

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“I had the good fortune to attend Ryder Cups in Europe and in the United States,” Grizot said. “And I was struck because the United States is the world’s leading nation in golf, but the Ryder Cup, when it was played outside of Chicago, you could not imagine when you were in Chicago that the Ryder Cup was being played nearby. It was the same last time in Minneapolis.

“So in Paris, we’ve tried to do it differently with this 10-day program. It’s now or never, because after all we’re doing, if there are not more golfers in France, sadly we will have a problem.”

A big Ryder Cup boost remains far from certain.

“Personally, I don’t see it,” said Gilles Jourdan, a former director of the Open de France, the regular European Tour stop at Le Golf National. “I think they have made a bad calculation because there is just so much work to do. I’m a golfer, but. …”

He exhaled, like a homeowner looking at a flooded basement. But Jourdan, who is now director of the expansion project for the French Open tennis tournament, does think golf could get a longer-term lift from the combined impact of the Ryder Cup and the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024.

The Olympic golf tournament also will be staged on Le Golf National’s Albatros course, the watery layout that opened in 1990 and has been significantly reworked since then. It has lots of space and fine sight lines for spectators.

“That course is made for viewing,” Jourdan said. “I’ve been to Ryder Cups where you’re standing in the fifth row and you see nothing. But the greens at this course are low, and as a spectator you are usually standing above them, so there’s lots of room, which is great. What it doesn’t have is much history.”

The Ryder Cup can fill that void, however. The event has been providing intercontinental thrills for more than 90 years, and though the French who do find their curiosity piqued won’t get to watch a Frenchman in action, they will get to watch someone quite likely more familiar.

“If there had been a French player, we in the federation would have been very happy of course,” Lasfargue said. “But in France, Tiger is for a lot of people probably the only golfer they know.”


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