This is the greatest time of the year to be a sports fan. Football season is in full swing, the World Cup of hockey is being played in Toronto, the post-season in baseball is just around the corner, and the 41st Ryder Cup is on this weekend.
The Ryder Cup is perhaps one of the most exciting and unique events in all of professional golf.
PGA tournaments typically follow a stroke play format, with each player competing individually against one another for the tournament championship.
The Ryder Cup is a team competition, featuring teams from the United States vs teams from Europe.
The format during the 3-day event is that of match play, which involves teams of two players and individual players attempting to win each hole outright for points.
The first day features four morning foursomes competing in four alternate shot matches. Each match is worth one point to the winning team. The afternoon matches feature four more ‘fourball’ play with two-man teams competing in a best ball competition, again one point being awarded to each winning team. Day 2 again features four more alternate shot matches and four afternoon best ball matches. The final day involves 12 singles matches which adds to the drama as players battle one against one and country against country for a point in every singles match and the eventual team title of Ryder Cup champion.
The Ryder Cup competition is played every two years and the location alternates between the United States and Europe. This year’s Ryder Cup will be played at the Hazelton National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
Team Europe has won four of the past five Ryder Cups. In 2014, Europe defeated the Americans 16½ to 11½ in some highly contested matches at the Perthshire Club in Scotland. In 2012 and 2010, the Europeans were again victorious winning in similar fashion, 14½ to 13½ over a couple of highly skilled American teams. The last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup was in 2008, when they defeated Team Europe 16½ to 11½ at Valhalla Country Club.
The twelve-man European team is captained by Darren Clarke. This year’s team is a combination of both skill and youth and includes Rafa Cabrera Bello, Mathew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Thomas Pieters, Henrick Stenson, Andy Sullivan, Lee Westwood, Danny Willet, Chris Wood, and FedEx Cup Champion, Rory McIlroy.
The American team is captained by Davis Love III. Returning from the 2014 team are Phil Michelson, Ricky Fowler, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Jordan Speith, and Jimmy Walker. New to the American team will be J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson.
The captains for each team will have to make their daily pairings based on players’ skills, compatibility, chemistry, and confidence. Final pairings for each day’s matches will be based on the success of each pairing at the end of each daily match. The Ryder Cup is unique, as the competitors are playing more for pride, their team, and their country rather than the purse, which is usually the reward for winning a tournament.
The team that will win this year’s Ryder Cup will combine skill, enthusiasm, and excitement. The Europeans may be the favourites, but there are still a lot of talented players on the United States squad. To win, the ‘underdog’ Americans are going to need some great shotmaking from all of their players and team captain Davis Love III will need to pair up players that will get the team excited with shots that will bring loud cheers and plenty of ‘fist pumping’.
Next Week: A Time for Thanks!