This weekend the bi-annual event that is the Ryder Cup gets underway over the Atlantic at the Medinah Golf Course in Chicago, Illinois with two Ryder Cup legends at the helm. Jose Maria Olazabal captains Europe with Davis Love III taking charge of the Americans.
Now I love the Ryder Cup – it is a proper team competition with the power from across the pond taking on taking on the upstarts from Europe – well since 1979 (when it was decided that the tournament needed to be more competitive so encompassed all of Europe and not just GB and Ireland). The first two tournaments were easily won by the Americans, however in 1983 the USA only won by one point against a European Team lead by Tony Jacklin and ever since that time the competition has been extremely close and Europe have actually won many more Ryder Cups 🙂 – starting from 1985 the score reads 9-4 in Europe’s favour.
Anyways this three day tussle is always dramatic, the Captains set the tone, their job is so important and can be the difference between a close match and one where a team runs away with it, the biggest example in my time was Hal Sutton’s decision to pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson together twice on day one at Oakland Hills in 2004, two players well known for not getting on, needless to say they lost both their matches and America were thrashed by 18.5 points to 9.5. Sorting the pairings that complement each other is just one part of the captains job, as is keeping an eye on what is going on across four matches, so it is essential that they have vice captains who they trust and can relay important messages to keep team members informed – especially if its a case of playing it safe or needing to go for broke!!!!!!!
It has been said that Europe’s team is just that a team, whereas the Americans are just a group of individuals who don’t really care about the result and that it is a bit of an inconvenience as they could be making money elsewhere. I felt that used to be the case a few years ago but back to back nine point thrashings has now in my opinion concentrated the mind – any team from USA hates to lose let alone be on the end of a hands down beating. This even necessitated a change in their selection process with the USA requesting to have four wildcard picks. As mentioned Europe have always been a tight knit unit and always produce the goods – sometimes it is not good enough – but they can never be accused of not giving 100% effort.
So what of this years match – well arguably its one of the strongest pair of Ryder Cup teams ever with the lowest ranked player being Nicolas Colsaerts at 35 in the world – however he has had a cracking season. Obviously there will be massive focus on Rory Mcllroy and Tiger Woods but there are so many good players – this one could go either way.
If I had to pick a winner well I can’t – so its fence sitting for me. As always ill be supporting Europe and hope they win, the one glaring stat that does not bode well for the American team is that none of their players have a winning record – but I feel that means nothing when the first shot is hit come Firday morning (afternoon GMT for us). Jose and Davis will need to do their job right and hope their pairings and then individuals on Sunday – do the bizzo.
Come on Europe – may the best team win.