“You could say we have gone for certainty,” O’Grady said.
The 2017 Open de France, which starts on Thursday, is mainland Europe’s oldest pro tournament, dating from 1906. This year marks the 25th time it will be played at Le Golf National, the site of the 2018 Ryder Cup. Grizot, president of France’s Ryder Cup committee, and leaders of the French Golf Federation are trying to use the Ryder Cup as a catalyst for golf in their country.
Golf has always been something of an afterthought in France. It ranks around the fifth or sixth most popular sport in the country, and the country’s golf enthusiasts have long yearned for a native-born star.
No French golfer has won a major since 1907, when Arnaud Massy claimed the British Open. Jean van de Velde (1999) and Thomas Levet (2002) have come the closest since, losing in playoffs.
France has approximately 800,000 golfers, but the sport suffers from a reputation of being primarily for the wealthy. More than 425,000 golfers pay an annual membership dues of 52 euros, which is required to participate in club and amateur events.
France’s Ryder Cup initiative was put to a vote of…