Spain criticizes rivals tactics in Ryder Cup vote


VIRGINIA WATER, England – The leader of Spain’s failed Ryder Cup bid criticized rival candidates on Tuesday for making the death of Seve Ballesteros an issue in the campaign to host the 2018 tournament.

Gonzaga Escauriaza, the president of the Spanish golf federation, said he was disappointed to see some opponents claim that awarding the tournament to Spain as a fitting tribute to Ballesteros would be unfair.

“I saw some comments from some of the bids that they shouldn’t give it to Spain because of Severiano,” Escauriaza said. “I don’t think that was fair because there wasn’t a single press release from me mixing anything Ryder Cup with Severiano.”

France beat Spain and three other candidates to the hosting rights for the 2018 match after a unanimous vote.

The Spanish bid had emerged as a sentimental choice for some following the death this month of Ballesteros, who lost his three-year fight against the effects of a brain tumor.

Forever linked with the Ryder Cup after leading Europe to victory as player and captain, Ballesteros was a patron of Spain’s bid. His family was among those suggesting that awarding the tournament to Spain would be an ideal way to honor him.

“It would have made my brother very happy, for it was one of his dreams,” Baldomero Ballesteros said at his brother’s funeral last week.

French player Thomas Levet, a member of Europe’s 2004 Ryder Cup team, had said there would be better ways of honoring Ballesteros than awarding Spain a second Ryder Cup, after its first in 1997 at Valderrama.

“The only regret I have is that some people from other nations said it shouldn’t have been given to Spain,” Escauriaza said. “The committee had a difficult choice and they didn’t deserve to have pressure on them. That was a terrible thing to happen.”

European Tour chief executive George O’Grady, who ratified the recommendation of the bid evaluation committee, said a decision had been made simply on the merits of each candidate’s bid.

“It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference to us,” O’Grady said of the talk surrounding Ballesteros. “We have been at this for some time. All those things are factored in.

“We didn’t feel any undue pressure on us. It was water off a duck’s back.”

The European Tour said earlier Tuesday that it is actively considering changing its logo to an image of Ballesteros.

The current logo features a silhouette of Harry Vardon, a six-time winner of the British Open between 1896 and 1914, but many high-profile golfers want it changed to honor Ballesteros.