World leaders often condemn the act where by countries are deemed to of ganged up on another but when the cause is sport, it’s apparently ok. The Ryder Cup can be described as the epitome of a bombardment. On one side Team Europe, the other Team USA. The finest golfing warriors assembled for mutual protection as they cross the pond to face the battlefield, albeit a rather well mowed one, certainly absent of trenches.
The biennial competition this year returns to the USA, Medinah in Illinois. Europe arrive as current holders and will look to retain the title over three days of driving, putting and perhaps an albatross! If you have limited interest in the sport or just a complete resentment for chequered vests then this is the event for you.
The format, two teams (USA and Europe) each consisting of twelve players and lead by a non-playing captain contest in over 18 holes in various match plays. Unlike regular tour golf the Ryder Cup sees each hole played in isolation. Rather than the traditional effort to complete the course in as few as strokes possible this set-up prevents players carrying over saved shots onto the next hole making every player starting on the same level at each new hole.
Eight matches will take place on the Friday and Saturday. Two players from USA and Europe pair up to compete in fourballs, where each player has a ball and individual that completes the round with the lowest score wins or foursomes, where this time each pair shares a ball taking alternate shots to complete each hole. An individual round is played on the Sunday with all twelve players partaking.
A total of 28 points are played for over the weekend with the winning team having the highest cumulative number. A draw would result in the current Ryder Cup holders retaining the trophy as play-offs are not permitted. This would be Europe in 2012.
Taken from the current points lists of the US or European Tour the teams are selected according to players ranking and money earned. Europe selects ten players from the Europe and World points list and USA eight from the American points list. Each captain then selects wild-card players, Europe two and USA four, to take the total tally of players to twelve.
This year’s collation of players offers something for everyone. Golfing novices will be well aware of the existence of Tiger Woods; after a long awaited return to form following 2 and a half years dry of victory, Woods recent performance saw him first to qualify for Team USA selection. For the passionate then look no further than Bubba Watson; his composure and driving distance saw him win the Masters this year in a late night sudden death thriller amongst the trees of Augusta. For the oldies Phil Mickelson may ring a bell as he attends his ninth consecutive Ryder Cup, will consistency prevail?
Elsewhere, there will be much pressure on Rory McIIroy; having previously waivered under pressure at big tournaments the current world number one now has two major championship titles and begins his second Ryder Cup with confidence. For the superstitious many will be glad for the addition of Luke Donald to Team Europe; having never been on a losing European side Donald also possesses an outstanding foursome record and a formidable partnership with Spaniard, Sergio Garcia. For everyone else there are many more to choose from and you will not miss Team Europe, they’ll be wearing bright orange!
With the 2010 tournament resulting in a nail-biting final day score of 14 ½ Europe to 13 ½ USA one can rarely pick a favourite. The intensity of the matches will be evident by the noise of the Chicago crowds as each team try to get the measure of their opposing partners. Expect terrific drives, tense putting and torturous points as the battle for the Ryder Cup begins. But whilst Team USA carries a whole countries hopes spare a thought for the European contingents, they’re supporting an entire continent!