By Tony Jimenez
LONDON (Reuters) – Rome will become only the third Ryder Cup host from Continental Europe after Italy pipped Germany, Spain and Austria on Monday in the bidding race to stage the 44th edition of the matches in 2022.
The Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, situated 17km from the centre of the Italian capital, is to follow in the footsteps of Valderrama, Spain in 1997 and Le Golf National, on the outskirts of Paris, in 2018.
There were initially seven bidders but Denmark, Portugal and Turkey withdrew their interest in the early stages.
“I would like to offer my congratulations to Italy whose bold and ambitious bid has seen them become the host nation for the 2022 Ryder Cup,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in a statement.
“History has shown time and again the Ryder Cup is pure theatre with the players the stars, and there is no question the Eternal City of Rome will provide a wonderful backdrop for one of the great occasions in world golf.”
The tour said it was particularly pleased by the pledge to undertake a complete reconstruction of Marco Simone to meet the highest standards demanded by the matches.
There was also a commitment to guarantee a prize fund of seven million euros ($7.67 million) at the Italian Open for 11 years beginning in 2017.
Prize money at the 2016 Italian Open will also double from 1.5 million euros to a minimum of three million.
“The Italian bid was consistently strong and impressive across the board in terms of infrastructure, commercial structure and government support,” said Europe’s Ryder Cup director Richard Hills.
“The plans outlined for the golf course at Marco Simone are spectacular alongside the commitment to develop all levels of golf in Italy.”
Costantino Rocca was the first Italian golfer to play in the Ryder Cup, at The Belfry in England in 1993. The Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo, also made their debuts in the matches at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010.
The next edition of the biennial team event will be held at Hazeltine, Minnesota in September 2016 while Whistling Straits, Wisconsin is to stage the matches in 2020.
Europe have won the last three Ryder Cups against the United States.
($1 = 0.9126 euros)
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)