Our press officer at the French Riviera Masters brings you all the action from on and off the course at Terre Blanche…
With The Ryder Cup taking place next week, there has been a lot of talk about the contest and how Jose Maria Olazabal will select his pairings. Philip Walton, who beat Jay Haas in the penultimate singels match in the1995 contest to secure Europe's victory, spoke of the pressure he was under that day. "It was like I was in someone else's body," he said. "There is nothing else like it and it's difficult to describe. Afterwards everyone was celebrating, but all I wanted to do was get off the green and go and have a few quiet pints."
The front cover of the tournament programme and the advertising around the venue was designed by Matthieu Forichon, a famous French artist and member of Terre Blanche who is known for his elegant paintings of architecture and landscapes, and has worked with such names as Louis Vitton. There was some confusion, however, when one of the tournament officials claimed Forichon had worked on the design of the Shrek animation, as his work is very far removed from the green ogre. All became clear when it turned out the offical in question was mixing him up with the designer of last year's programme, who had indeed worked on the Shrek films.
The perfect host
The European Senior Tour is fortunate to visit some spectacular venues, and Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort is up there with the very best. This is the first time the resort has hosted a Senior Tour tournament, and it is sure to be a superb week as the senior players competes on European soil for the last time this season. Terre Blanche, a European Tour Destination, has two championship golf courses – both designed by former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas – a five star hotel and spa and a state of the art golf academy, which was recently launched as the first European Tour Performance Institute. Located in the heart of Provence and close to the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera, its stunning setting and magnificent facilities mean no one will want to go home on Sunday!
Order of Merit battle intensifying
With only three events left of the 2012 season, the heat is on in the battle of the Senior Tour Order of Merit. Englishman Roger Chapman has a healthy lead following his two Major triumphs this season, but Barry Lane, €80,869 behind, cannot be discounted. Peter Fowler, the reigning Number One, is more than €150,000 behind Chapman, but there is bound to be a real tussle for second spot as the campaign reaches its climax with this week’s French Riviera Masters, the Fubon Senior Open in Taiwan in November and the season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius in December.
Because I'm worth it...
Pro-ams often feature celebrities, and this week is no different with former professional footballer David Ginola arriving on Tuesday with an uber-glamorous lady friend in tow. David was also a model in his younger days – and could still be, actually – and will no doubt please the females present at Terre Blanche this week. They certainly didn’t look out of place in Nice airport, which was full of people who looked as though they were on route to their yacht in nearby St Tropez. With glowing tans, diamonds and trolley-loads of Louis Vuitton luggage on show, Nice must win the prize for most glamorous airport in the world.
The French are fiercely proud of their cuisine and often boast about having the finest food in the world, but yours truly had the pleasure of being in Turin last week for the BMW Italian Open and after enjoying a week of delicious Italian meals, it’s a title up for debate. Italy is winning for me at the moment – those pizzas were something else! – but France has the next three nights to win me over. Watch this space.