“We need someone at the same level as Tiger Woods,” admits Evian Championship boss.
France may be hosting two of the biggest events in the men’s and ladies game this month, but that still won’t change the country’s current perception of golf, claims Evian Championship boss Franck Riboud.
Riboud was speaking to the media at this week’s LPGA Evian Championship in Evian-les-Bains, which is teeing up just two weeks before Europe and United States clash horns in the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris.
“I’m going to be very nasty with my country,” said Riboud. “My country is not a golf country. Even if we have the Ryder Cup, it’s not a golf country. We don’t have the culture. I don’t care.”
French Tour pro Mike Lorenzo-Vera, who narrowly missed out on his maiden European Tour title at last week’s European Masters, made a similar comment a couple of months ago when claiming “golf in France is for rich people and spoiled kids.”
The raw numbers at the professional level tend to back up both of their claims.
Jean Van de Velde has still created the most memorable French moment in golf when standing in the Barry Burn en route to squandering The Open at Carnoustie in 1999, while Alex Levy is currently the country’s highest ranked player at 88th in the world.
Things aren’t much better in the ladies game with Karine Icher, ranked 121st in the top 250 of the Rolex Rankings.
Riboud believes in order for French golf to ever take off then it needs someone on par with that of Tiger Woods – yeah okay, good luck with that!
“The best ambassador of golf in France is going to be the next French champion at the same level of Tiger Woods,” said Riboud.
“Perhaps it’s crazy, but that’s the thing we have to dream about. We need the kids to dream about a French player or French ladies.”