One of sport’s greatest trophies, the Ryder Cup, touched down in Northern Ireland today, with European Captain Darren Clarke pledging to do his best to keep Europe’s hands on the famous golden prize come September.
The Ryder Cup Trophy Tour was officially launched by Clarke at Royal Portrush Golf Club on Tuesday morning, beginning a roadshow that will visit a number of European destinations over the coming months, helping to further build fan excitement ahead of September’s event at Hazeltine.
And after being spurred on by a superb display from Europe’s golfers at the US Masters in Augusta - where seven Europeans finished in the top ten - Clarke has his sights firmly set on a record fourth consecutive victory for Europe.
There are a lot of guys pushing hard for a place - Darren Clarke
It’s going to be very interesting now we’re getting into the middle of the season as a lot of the places are going to chop and change. It’s going to be as exciting for me to see how the team finalises as it is for everybody else watching.”
Commenting on Danny Willett’s stunning victory at Augusta, Clarke said: “This is another step in the right direction for Danny. He’s dedicated, and works so hard at his game. To see him come through in the fashion he did on Sunday was wonderful and to see Lee Westwood play so well again was really good, he was right there until the very end.”
After being received by Clarke, the Ryder Cup Trophy visited Portrush Harbour and Dunluce Castle, as part of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland. Tomorrow, Wednesday April 13, fans will have the opportunity to get up close and personal to the famous golden cup, when it is put on public display at City Hall in Belfast, from 9.00am-10.30am and The Dome at Victoria Square from 11.00am-9.00pm.
Fans will have the opportunity to be photographed alongside the Ryder Cup free of charge, and pledge their support to the European team though social media.
Clarke said: “I’m delighted to see the Ryder Cup Trophy here in Northern Ireland and I really hope everyone here gets behind the European team heading to Hazeltine. The Ryder Cup is one of sport’s greatest trophies, and I encourage the people of Northern Ireland to make the most of the opportunity to see it in Belfast tomorrow.”
Northern Ireland is one of a select group of European countries to stage the Ryder Cup Trophy Tour over the coming months, with the roadshow also visiting France and Italy, the next two European countries to host the contest in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
The 41st Ryder Cup itself takes place at Hazeltine, Minnesota from September 30 to October 2. In recognition of this year’s host nation and, working in conjunction with the PGA of America, the Ryder Cup Trophy Tour will also extend to a selection of cities across the US later in the year.