Why American Sports Fans Should Fall in Love with the Ryder Cup
In a sport where individual pursuits rule the landscape, the team-oriented Ryder Cup is the best thing going in golf.
That team atmosphere brings about a different set of emotions, trash talking and pressure than these guys are typically under.
Reuters' Mark Lamport-Stokes passed along this quote from U.S. captain Davis Love III, which highlights the kind of pressure the Ryder Cup provides. Love said:
It's like the Super Bowl is so much bigger than teams think when they get there. Getting on the inside of this tournament, you realize how big it is, how many people care about it and how many people want us to win it.
The reason for the increased stakes? This biennial competition not only has America's top players competing for a team but for national pride—this is a battle of the U.S. vs. Europe.
To increase the team aspect of this event, the early matches are foursome and fourball matches, which means that these guys compete in teams of two.
The final day is about singles matches, which this year, will have 24 of the world's top 35 golfers going head-to-head in match play.
Check out this highlight from the last Ryder Cup, in 2010, and watch as the Americans make an amazing hard charge in Sunday's single matches, but end up coming up just short.
Watch the Europeans celebrate, and then tell me you don't feel the fire burning inside to see the Americans gain some revenge.
As sports fans experience every four years with the Olympics, there is an inexplicable amount of intensity and interest when battles are waged for regional/national pride. The fans feel it and the athletes can't help but get caught up in the added interest and importance.
That has definitely become the case with this competition. Although, it took a while for it to arrive at that point.
The first Ryder Cup took place in 1927, and while the opposing sides alternated titles, it was the U.S. that began to dominate.
Heading into 1985, the U.S. led the all-time Ryder Cup titles, 28-11. But that dominance was beginning to reach it's end as changes were made to help bolster the strength of the U.S.' opposition.
Until 1973, this competition was between the U.S. and Britain. In an effort to increase the competition, it was that year that they began including players from Ireland. And by 1979, that was expanded to how we know it now: a team with players from the continent of Europe.
Now, the tables have been completely turned. The Europeans have won six of the last eight competitions.
The Americans have not accepted this change in global supremacy lightly. These guys get into these matches, which led to the moment where the Ryder Cup rivalry was really born.
1999 Ryder Cup
With Europe having won the two Ryder Cups leading up to 1999, the U.S. was hungry to return the Cup home.
Their chances of doing that looked grim heading into Sunday at Brookline. However, an amazing performance in Sunday's singles matches led them back.
The U.S. won eight of Sunday's 12 matches to prevail by a single point, 14.5 to 13.5.
Justin Leonard sealed the win on No. 17 when he drained an uphill birdie putt from 45' away. When Leonard drained the putt, his opponent Jose Maria Olazabal had yet to complete the hole and could have tied it.
That trivial detail didn't stop the Americans, who were huddled around the green, from charging the putting surface like college students rushing the gridiron after their team just pulled off an improbable upset.
Needless to say, this is not your typical golf behavior, and it did not sit will with the Europeans.
Reuters notes that following the match, "Europe vice captain Sam Torrance said he had been 'disgusted' by the display."
They also point out The London Evening Standard ran the headline "How to win a Cup but lose all dignity."
They Europeans ultimately ended up taking their revenge on the course. The U.S. did not win again until 2008.
Why 2012 is Must-See Action
This all leads us to this year. The U.S. is looking to reverse the trend in this competition, and they will have to do so against a European team that features four of the the world's top five golfers.
So we have an American team battling as underdogs in a competition they used to own. It doesn't get much better than that.
This team is loaded with experience with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who both looked to be in good form in during the playoffs, and they have dynamic ball strikers like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.
This is a deep group, with a good diversity of talents.
So while the Europeans enjoy an edge in the rankings, if the Americans play at the top of their game, they will win.
And if all of this was not enough to get you excited about the Ryder Cup, Bubba Watson tweeted out another fantastic reason to enjoy the action.
bubba watson (@bubbawatson) September 25, 2012
Rest assured, there will be no terrible calls determining the outcome of this one!.
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