Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Ryder Cup 2014


There were some pretty nasty comments floating around following last Sunday’s conclusion of the Ryder Cup. At least from the contingent on the North American continent.


Every two years, an American contingent of golfers takes on a group from Europe for bragging rights. There is a wee cup that goes to the victors, seventeen inches in height. That little cup is perhaps the most hotly contested piece of hardware in the sporting world today.


For many years, the Americans dominated the game. 1977 was the last year that the championship was played between Americans and golfers from Great Britain and Ireland. European golfers joined the team in 1979, and, for some reason, things have not gone very well for the American golfers after that date. Since 1979, the Europeans have won the title ten times, the Americans seven. Europe has been represented by players from: Spain, Sweden, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark.


The Europeans won the title for the third consecutive time on Sunday at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. In 2016, the Ryder Cup will be contested in Minnesota. The 2018 Cup will be played in France at Le Golf National Club.


For the past couple of years, legendary golfer Tom Watson has been responsible for assembling the American team. He is the captain, and it was his duty to put together a winning team. There are singles matches, and different types of foursomes. There are 28 points at stake, and teams receive half points for ties.


Following the devastating loss, an American commentator spoke with Phil Mickelson, the most successful player on their team. I was a bit shocked when the interviewer intimated that one day Phil would likely become the captain of the team. I was more shocked when Phil began criticizing the entire American process: team selection, team chemistry, team philosophy. Hardly a team approach from the left-handed player.


Watson had decided to sit Mickelson out for the games last Saturday. Mickelson and Keegan Bradley did not play well Friday, and the captain went with a hunch to play Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker. Mickelson was steamed at the slight, and likely dashed his chances of becoming a captain any time soon with his tirade.


The European team was led by Rory McIlroy, the best golfer in the world today. But it was a 38 year old rookie from Wales who really put a pin in the American balloon. Jamie Donaldson was four strokes up on Keegan Bradley with four holes to play. His nine iron shot from 146 yards out rolled next to the cup. That was all she wrote. Captain Watson shook his hand, signalling the European victory.


The Europeans had scored 16 ½ points to 11 ½ for the Americans. They got to pop the corks, and kept the Ryder Cup for the eighth time in the last ten championships.

The players receive no prize money for their efforts. The golf associations and the television networks do quite well from the event. There are enormous crowds following the golfers throughout the week. All matches are hotly contested, to say the least. National pride, and all that stuff.


Serious golf fans on this side of the Atlantic can now go back on their regular sleep schedule. They set their alarms for three in the morning last weekend, as the golf was six hours ahead of us, thanks to Sir Sanford Fleming.


James Hurst

September 30, 2014


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