Ryder Cup 2012: Why the European Team Can Play Free and Easy Golf
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The United States has its work cut out for itself if it is going to take care of business in the Ryder Cup this week.
For one thing, captain Davis Love's team can't just go out and play the game with clear minds and compete against Europe's best players. They go into the competition at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago knowing that they have been dominated by their rivals from across the pond.
This is not just another tournament—this is the Ryder Cup, played every two years. Once this competition is completed, there won't be another Ryder Cup on U.S. soil until 2016.
The European Ryder Cup team has won four of the last five competitions and seven out of 10. That's dominance.
The U.S. can spin it any way it wants to, but American golfers repeatedly have been beaten on the U.S. side of the Atlantic and in Europe.
The U.S. has had many superior players over the years,—Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker, to name a few—but Europe's best players have competed better. The Americans may have more superstars and more well-known golfers, but the Europeans simply have gone out and played better.
At the 2010 competition at Celtic Manor in Wales, the U.S. team thought it was done in by poor weather when the schedule had to be altered (via Telegraph.co.uk).
That was just frustration talking; with the Americans losing so often, there's a feeling of "why me" that shows up every time the U.S. team comes together every two years.
This may remind some American sports fans of what took place in the baseball All-Star competition during the 1960s and 1970s when the National League would get the best of the American League nearly every year. In many cases, the American League team was defeated even before it stepped on the field because the National League had won so often and had such a strong team.
This allowed the National League to play free and easy in the annual competition, and the Europeans have the same advantage in the Ryder Cup.
Look at the overall competition from their standpoint: They have won 7-of-10, and they are playing on the Americans' home course. If the Europeans lose this time around, they still will have a very strong recent history. They will not have anything to hang their heads about.
On the other hand, the Americans are supposed to have the advantage because they are playing at home. That creates maximum pressure in the minds of the American players in the days leading up to the event.
They may not admit it publicly and they might even deny it, but the pressure is palpable.
There is no such pressure on the Europeans. They also have excellent talent on their roster, including Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer.
When great players have an opportunity to show off their skills and the pressure is almost all on their opponents, it creates a chance to play the game with only positive thoughts.
That's why the European Ryder Cup team can go into the competition playing free and easy golf.
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