Dec 9th, 2016
Tony Jacklin has concerns over Paris Ryder Cup venue
But supports Thomas Bjorn's selection
Words: John Dean Photography: Getty Images
Tony Jacklin has welcomed Thomas Bjorn's appointment as 2018 European Ryder Cup captain but the former captain has his concerns about the Paris venue.
Jacklin, the most successful captain in Europe's Ryder Cup history, believes the 45-year-old Dane is the right man for the job.
"Thomas is very close to the players and he's got all the experience you need," the 72-year-old Englishman told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Florida home.
"I can't imagine anybody thinking he's a bad choice. The only reservation I've got is that the matches are going to be in Paris and, relatively speaking, golf is a minority sport in France.
"You like to think your home ground is very much an advantage and I'm not entirely certain that will be the case."
The Americans were backed by a vocal and highly partisan crowd in Minnesota and Jacklin is worried the support for Europe in Paris could fall short in that respect.
"When it's in the UK we get tremendous support," he said. "When it was in Valderrama in Spain in 1997 there were a lot of British holidaymakers there who supported it.
"But the French people are not what you would call staunch golf fans. It's a little bit less of a home advantage in my opinion.
"The vast majority don't know what golf is because it's regarded as an elitest game... it's the same in Spain and Italy," added Jacklin.
"Despite what Victor Dubuisson has done for France, Seve Ballesteros for Spain or Bernhard Langer for Germany, golf still struggles to get to the masses in those countries."
Jacklin was also in favour of changing the qualifying system, which meant that Darren Clarke was unable to pick Paul Casey.
"Hopefully Thomas will be able to tweak the rules so that he gets the best 12 players at his disposal," said Jacklin.
"The first thing a captain needs to know is that he's going into battle with the best players.”
"If you were born in Europe and have played in the Ryder Cup before, you should be an automatic choice if you are in the top 50 of the rankings whether you are a tour member or not.
"We are putting obstacles in the way otherwise. You can't be inventing reasons why guys can't get in the team."
We think everyone is on the same page now, and that Thomas Bjorn will quickly clear the way for this to happen through the review that he authorized on day one of his captaincy.