Why I love the Ryder Cup, even though the U.S. always loses

The Ryder Cup is golf at its best–high drama, national pride, and great golf.  Team USA has broken my heart most of my adult life, having won only two of the past 10 Ryder Cups.  But every two years, I look forward to the Ryder Cup more than just about any sporting event.  Here’s why.

I get to root for America:  I’m a well-traveled, cultured guy and all that stuff, but let me be frank…I love America!  So anytime I can root for the Stars and Stripes, count me in!  The World Cup?  Check.  The Olympics?  Check.  World’s Strongest Man competition?  Bill Kazmaier for life!  Granted, great U.S. Ryder Cup moments have been rare in the last 20 years.  But I’d be lying if I said I still don’t get pumped up watching clips of Justin Leonard draining his putt at Brookline in 1999, or Anthony Kim destroying Sergio at Valhalla in 2008.

I get to root for an underdog:  Americans love rooting for an underdog.  In fact, our most memorable moments are when the underdogs have won.  There’s the Miracle on Ice in 1980, and Rulon Gardner winning the wrestling gold medal over the undefeated Russian Alexander Karelin in 2000.  When it comes to the Ryder Cup, the U.S. is the underdog, even on home soil.  Will they beat Europe?  Probably not, which is exactly why a win would be incredible.

Match play enhances the players’ personalities:  To me, the most compelling part of watching professional golf isn’t watching great golf shots.  It’s watching the psyche of the different players.  During the average tour event, the players’ personalities sometimes seem like they are in remission.  But at the Ryder Cup, they are out in full force.  There are frontrunners like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods (in his prime) who like to get a big lead and essentially force their opponent into submission.  There are scramblers like Jordan Spieth and Graeme McDowell who can spray the ball all over, then drain a 30-foot putt that demoralizes opponents.  There are robots like Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson who can take the same great swing over and over without being phased.  And then there are the highly emotional guys like Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter who seem to perform better the more animated they get.  It’s fun to watch.


NBC has excellent coverage and a great theme song:  Dan Hicks is great in the lead role on NBC.  And Johnny Miller, love him or hate him, recognizes the big moments and isn’t afraid to speak his mind about them.  There’s also NBC’s Ryder Cup theme song, which has to be the best music in sports television.

During the 2014 Ryder Cup when NBC had the theme song played with the bagpipes, I almost lost my sh*t.  So good.

Does everyone else get excited about the Ryder Cup?  Feel free to share what you think makes the event great (unless you’re with Team Europe, I already know you’re answer).



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