French golf legends Jean van de Velde and Thomas Levet have urged the people of France to celebrate The Ryder Cup, as one of sport’s most famous trophies arrived in Paris as part of The Ryder Cup Trophy Tour.
Van de Velde, who became the first Frenchman to play in The Ryder Cup back in 1999, and Levet, a winner of The Ryder Cup in 2004, officially welcomed The Ryder Trophy Tour to Paris.
The famous figurine-topped Trophy will visit some of the city’s leading landmarks today, before going on public display at this weekend’s Open de France at Le Golf National.
And with Le Golf National the next European venue to host The Ryder Cup in 2018, Van de Velde says there has never been a better time for the people of France to embrace the event.
He said: “I’m delighted to welcome The Ryder Cup Trophy Tour to Paris and I really hope the people of France get behind the European team heading to Hazeltine this year, and continue to build excitement for a historic match here in France in 2018.
“The Ryder Cup is one of world sport’s greatest events, and it is fantastic that France is to become just the second country in mainland Europe to stage it. I think fans can look forward to a spectacular Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, and a ground-breaking moment for golf in France and the whole of Europe.”
Thomas Levet added: “We’re hosting The Ryder Cup in just two years, so it’s important to bring the Trophy here and give people an idea of the great event that’s coming up. Euro2016 is going well in Paris at the moment, lots of people are responding, and I hope people will also come to enjoy The Ryder Cup, another of sport’s great global events.”
Levet, who was part of the European team that won The Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills in 2004, believes Europe has the right talent to lift the Trophy on US soil again this year.
He said: “It takes a lot to win in the US. You have the crowd against you, plus the Americans really want to win it at home. We have three wins in the book, but it goes against us because they will want revenge. The team will need 12 fighters, and I wish Darren Clarke and the team good luck. I think they’ll bring a young team to Hazeltine that will do very well.
“Guys like Danny Willett will go into The Ryder Cup with a lot of confidence, and Shane Lowry showed at the US Open that he’s not afraid of anybody. Then of course there’s the talent of Rory McIlroy and some of the experienced players who might get picked like Lee Westwood, who had a really good US Open.”
After being received by Ryder Cup France president Pascal Grizot, The Ryder Cup Trophy began a two-day tour of Paris – today visiting sights including The Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Place de la Concorde and Chateau Versailles.
The Trophy will also visit the Mon Carnet golf programme and French golf fans will have the opportunity to be photographed alongside it free of charge when it is put on public display at the 100th Open de France, from Thursday to Sunday.
France is one of a select group of European countries to stage The Ryder Cup Trophy Tour over the coming months, with the roadshow also visiting the UK, Germany and Italy.