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The Star Online: Sports

France to host Ryder Cup in 2018

Posted: 17 May 2011 05:22 AM PDT

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP): France will host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2018 on Le Golf National course near Paris.

The French bid beat off competition from rival candidates Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands on Tuesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated the French bid leaders and the French Golf Federation for their victory and hard work.

"The practice of golf and the sport's development in France will now enjoy a new boom and take a new dimension, something the president is sincerely rejoicing with," Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

It's only the second time the biennial match between Europe and the United States will be played on mainland Europe - the first was in 1997, when the late Seve Ballesteros captained Europe to a single-point win at Valderrama in Spain.

With emotions running high after the death this month of Ballesteros, a Ryder Cup great and five-time major champion, some believed the European Tour should honor his memory by awarding his country of birth the 2018 event.

But tournament organizers were impressed with a number of aspects of the French bid - particularly the course, the location and its logistical and transport plans.

Le Golf National, also the headquarters of the French federation outside Versailles, was the best-known course of the five under consideration. It has been the venue for all but two French Opens in the last 20 years.

"The decision ... is a real honor for our country, the French Golf Federation and all the public and private partners who have supported the bid," said Pascal Grizot, the head of the Ryder Cup commission at the French federation.

"Above all it is a huge accolade for all French golfers who have contributed to this project."

There was strong backing for the 2018 Ryder Cup by the French government, with President Sarkozy making it a priority among French sports this decade along with European Championship football in 2016 and a Winter Olympics in 2018, with Annecy one of the three bidders.

"This new success showcases all the French expertise in organizing the biggest international competitions," said Charles Beigbeder, leader of the Annecy Olympic bid. "It enhances France's capacity to host big events and contributes to the influence of French athletes and sport in general. We hope the same success for Annecy 2018 on July 6 in Durban."

To fund the French bid, every registered golfer in the country has donated one euro to the cause.

Organizers are hoping the awarding of the Ryder Cup will boost the development of golf in France, with the number of registered players hoping to increase from 400,000 to 700,000 by 2022. The French also want three French players in Europe's Ryder Cup team by 2022.

Germany's bid was the Audi Course, near Munich, the Netherlands' at Spijk near Gorinchem, while Portugal's was at the Herade da Comporta Golf Resort near Lisbon.

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Hradecka, Zhang win in Strasbourg

Posted: 17 May 2011 04:08 AM PDT

STRASBOURG, France (AP): Eighth-seeded Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic beat American qualifier Ahsha Rolle 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Strasbourg International on Tuesday.

Hradecka, runner-up to Aravane Rezai two years ago, served 10 aces and broke Rolle three times. She will next play either Stephanie Foretz of France or Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko.

Zhang Shuai of China also advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier.

Top-seeded Marion Bartoli will start her campaign against Kimiko Date-Krumm later Tuesday while No.2 Andrea Petkovic takes on fellow German Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

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