At rowdy Ryder Cup, golf gets loud: U.S. aims for 2nd straight win over host Europeans
If you have any preconceived notions about the game of golf, throw them out the window before this weekend’s Ryder Cup.
With rowdy crowds jeering the players on the course, the atmosphere at the biennial, three-day team event at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales between the United States and Europe will feel more like a football game than your average golf tournament.
Aside from the crowds and the atmosphere, the event format is completely different from a standard tournament. Two teams of 12 players will play 28 match play competitions during the event.
The first two days of the competition are team match play format, wherein two-man teams get one point for posting a lower score on more holes than the opposing team; teams also get half a point if both sides win the same number of holes in the 18-hole match. The third and final day is a head-to-head singles competition between all 24 players in the event.
The ultimate goal is to win 141⁄2 points as a team to secure the famed Ryder Cup.
While the American team boasts having the game’s two best players in Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the European team seems to thrive on the team atmosphere at the event. That’s reason enough to pick the European’s to win on their home soil.
38th Ryder Cup
The Celtic Manor Resort,
City of Newport, Wales
Friday: Four-ball matches (morning) and foursome matches (afternoon), 2:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., ESPN (live)
Saturday: Four-ball matches (morning) and foursome matches (afternoon), 8 a.m to 6 p.m. NBC (tape delay)
Sunday: Singles matches (morning) and closing
ceremonies, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. NBC (live)
Corey Pavin (USA) and Colin Montgomerie (Europe)
The U.S. team routed the three-time defending champion Europeans, 16 to 111⁄2, at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
Four players to watch
Rory McIlroy, Europe
The brash 21-year-old from Northern Ireland could be one of the biggest wild cards in the event when he’s putting well. He’s also not afraid to face Woods or Phil Mickelson during the competition.
Padraig Harrington, Europe
Next to Tiger Woods, Harrington might be the most talked-about Ryder Cup selection.
The 39-year-old Irishman has been a mainstay on the team in the past, but his game has fallen off recently. It remains to be seen if he can turn things around this week.
Tiger Woods, USA
Woods’ game will be the talk of the Ryder Cup. With a new coach — and swing changes being made at this very second — many wonder if his game will be ready for one of golf’s biggest stages.
Rickie Fowler, USA
Like McIlroy, the 21-year-old Fowler is hoping to play the role of the youthful spark for the American squad. While he’s yet to win on tour, his no-fear attitude on the course could come in handy.
Why you should watch
While the teams may be playing for a trophy, it’s clear players in the event are interested in playing for something far more important: pride and bragging rights.
There’s a lot of pride on the line for both of these teams, evidenced by the countless verbal barbs and confrontations that have taken place during the 37 previous Ryder Cups.
American golfer Tom Kite best summed up the magnitude of the event when he said, “This has nothing to do with money. It’s bigger than that. This is playing for Uncle Sam, and Sam expects a lot.”
Sam’s not the only one expecting a lot. With all of Europe and America watching, golfers from both sides of the pond are playing for more than just their teammates and fans; they’re playing for their country (or continent) as well. Now that’s pressure.