Ryder Cup Has it All
If you’re not a golf fan than Tuesday night’s announcement in New York might have meant very little to you. But I venture to say that even “non-golf” people have to get just a little excited about the Ryder Cup. After all, it is much more than just golf. It’s about America, it’s about 12 guys who normally only care about one thing…themselves…playing as teammates, pulling for one another. I’ve been to a lot of great sporting events and watch a bunch more on my couch every week, but the Ryder Cup is one of the true great sporting events. The fact that we keep getting our butts kicked by those lousy Euros just makes it even more compelling.
Tuesday night American captain Tom Watson made his three picks to complete his 12 man team. The other nine players automatically qualified based on a 2 year point system. Watson went with Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Hunter Mahan of Dallas. Even with those guys joining Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and the others, The U.S. is still a heavy underdog for the matches coming up at the end of this month in Gleneagles Scotland. With his bad back and even worse swing, Tiger Woods won’t be competing in this Ryder Cup. The last time he missed, also with an injury in 2008, the U.S. won. So who needs Tiger? The truth is that his overall Ryder Cup record is under .500. Playing with others just doesn’t seem to be Tigers bag–what a shock.
The European team features the “new Tiger” Rory McIlroy. He’s the best player in the world and the guy that draws all the attention. But that’s why the Ryder Cup is so special, the best individual players don’t always excel in this format. The Ryder Cup began back in 1927 with a “friendly” match between American players and British players. That quickly became very one-sided for the U.S., so back in 1979 the format changed to include all of Europe. Even with the addition of Spaniards and Germans and Frenchmen, the U.S. still dominated the event with players like Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and Raymond Floyd. So much so that in they considered dropping the whole event.
But in the 1979 format change the European’s caught a second wind. Since then, the Europeans have won 9 matches, retained the Cup once with a tie and the Americans have won 7 times. That parity has brought life back to the Ryder Cup. So much so that the announcement was on live, network TV. Another cool thing about the Ryder Cup is that non of the participants are playing for a purse. Other than expenses these 24 players, some of the wealthiest golfers and athletes in the world, aren’t playing for money. They play out of national (or continental) pride. In today’s sports society of “me first – where’s my money” thinking, the Ryder Cup is a throwback to the days when athletes competed for pride and honor and the thrill of it.
To see Hunter Mahan hit a shank shot in the 2010 Ryder Cup because of all of the final day pressure on him, shows you just how intense this event is. Let’s just hope he redeems himself this month and it’s the Euros with the shanks.