While the 42nd edition of The Ryder Cup kicks off on Friday September 28th, the rivalry will be begin on Tuesday with the Ryder Cup Celebrity Match.
Part of a week-long schedule of events in Paris, the match will see eight celebrities from Europe and USA compete in a nine-hole scramble at Le Golf National. This year the celebrity teams will comprise of a mix of stars from the world of film, sport and beyond.
Over the coming weeks, both teams will be announcing their celebrity participants with Jamie Dornan and Kelly Slater being the first two to be confirmed for Europe and USA respectively.
Dornan, an actor from Northern Ireland, will make his Celebrity Match debut in Paris. The 35 year old, who stars in the "50 Shades of Grey" franchise, is a keen golfer and plays off of a handicap of ten. He was also born in Holywood, Northern Ireland – the town where Rory McIlroy grew up.
Kelly Slater is an American professional surfer. He has been crowned World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles in 1994–98. He is the youngest (at age 20) and the oldest (at age 39) to win the title. Slater represented USA in the 2016 Ryder Cup Celebrity Match in Hazeltine and is often spotted at golf events or pro-ams, playing off a handicap of three.
Next up for Team Europe is Luis Figo. Along with four La Liga winners medals, four Serie A winner medals, a FIFA World Player of the Year award and a Ballon d'Or, the Portuguese footballer is also an avid golfer and golf fan. The 45 year old represented Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale from 1989 to 2009 and was capped by Portugal more than 125 years, scoring 32 goals. He won the 2000 Ballon d'Or and the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year titles and was once the most expensive footballer in the world, when he moved from Barcelona to Real Madrid for a fee of €62 million. Figo plays to a handicap of around 11 and has played in the European Tour's Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in three of the last four years, partnering Martin Kaymer, Matt Fitzpatrick and Ricardo Gouveia.
The second player announced on the US side is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, a master’s degree from Notre Dame and a PhD from the University of Denver, Rice joined the Stanford faculty in 1981 and would later become Provost. She served in the administrations of both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush. From 2005-2009, she served as 66th US Secretary of State, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. Today, Rice teaches at Stanford University and likes to golf in her free time. In 2012, she became one of the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club and continues to play regularly, off a handicap of 14.
The third celebrity to make the European Celebrity Ryder Cup side is former French tennis star Guy Forget. The serve and volley specialist reached a career-high World Number 4 and was key part of France’s Davis Cup winning sides in 1991 and 1996. He would add another Davis Cup title and three further runner up finishes as France captain. This was on top of 11 singles titles from 19 finals. Now the Roland Garros Tournament Director, and nine handicapper, will be hoping he can be on a winning European side in his home country in the 2018 Celebrity Ryder Cup match.
The third player announced on Team USA is a tennis player of their own in James Blake. Known for his speed and powerful, flat forehand Blake reached a career high singles ranking of World Number four, and won ten of his 24 finals. Often seen at the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament, the Beijing Olympics semi finalist and golf fanatic will be hoping to use his experiences on the court, and on the fairways, to help guide America to a second consecutive Celebrity Ryder Cup victory.
Alessandro Del Piero is one of the most recognisable footballers of the modern era and is the latest player to represent Europe in The Ryder Cup Celebrity Match. The former Juventus man and World Cup winner in 2006 will now try and help Europe gain victory over their American counterparts at Le Golf National in September. If he can roll the putts in as often as he used to score goals, he could be a key member of the team.
The 2018 Celebrity Match will take place at Le Golf National on Tuesday from 2:00 to 5:45pm CEST.
Click here for Ryder Cup ticket information, including the Ryder Cup Celebrity Match.