Ryder Cup Gleneagles
Yes, we know every media outlet ran the story on Tuesday but they jumped the gun. It’s today. We promise. Players tee off on the PGA Centenary Course on 26th September 2014.
As part of the Year-to-Go celebrations US Captain Tom Watson and Euro Captain Paul McGinley gathered for a photo-call at Gleneagles earlier in the week. They chewed the captain’s fat at a public Q&A session with Dougie Donnelly, they got excited and threw soundbites about but essentially they gave very little away.
So we can’t help but wonder what it will it look like? And how will it feel?
Well, undoubtedly very scenic with all the glory of Perthshire in early autumn but mostly ferociously competitive. The Europeans want their seventh win badly but the US wants to break this winning streak very, very badly indeed. When their US players dominate the top rankings this uppity, fluky European run of luck is just not on.
Within this context it’s likely to be a clash of the Titans watched by the whole world, happening in a little hollow of Perthshire. In Scotland – Home of Golf….that comes with a financial tailwind of £100million. Kerching.
The Ryder Cup has been played only once in Scotland, at Muirfield in 1973 and since then it has become one of the biggest sporting events in the world. 3,500 press and TV folk will roll into Gleneagles for the bi-annual clash hoping it’s played right down to the wire with plenty opportunity for drama and myth making.
It is apparently now the third highest viewed sporting event in the world and each time the Europeans meet the US there seems to be added relish in the rivalry. Golf, normally such a polite game of rules and etiquette begins to take on a new character. A game centred on solitary goals and achievements becomes a passionately partisan team sport. As Euro Captain Paul McGinley said the other day at the countdown launch:
“It is not a big deal when you miss a putt and somebody cheers. You don’t hear that when you are playing for yourself, but in the Ryder Cup you expect that.”
The Ryder Cup gives golf fans an opportunity to be tribal and sometimes it’s just such a joy to give in to our baser instincts and hope the other side lose. And for the players it’s different too, not just because of the fan reactions that McGinley alluded to above but because they’re a Team. Jose Maria Olazabal nailed it when he said:
“When we’re individuals, we try to create our comfort zone. But at the Ryder Cup, it’s the opposite. You take the wall around you, break it up into pieces, and you open yourself up to your teammates. That’s why it’s so memorable.”
Golf is still a long way from football – it’s hard to imagine Henrik Stenson running around on the 18th with his polo shirt over his head celebrating his $11m winnings – but the Ryder Cup gives the players a deep visceral satisfaction that is missing in the pursuit of individual goals and it does show in their behaviour. They celebrate freely and winning seems to mean so much to these players who’re unused to relying on anyone other than themselves.
Let’s remind ourselves of what it looked like a year ago for Olazabal and his emotional reaction to the amazing European comeback victory of 2012.
Who knows what lies ahead for 2014, a repeat of the Miracle in Medinah looks a bit of a stretch at the moment. But it’s the Ryder Cup so anything could happen. One thing’s certain – the countdown is on.
Calling all golf fans. Are you looking forward to the Ryder Cup in Scotland? Is the hype kicking off too soon? Please tell us what you think, like and share – we love a bit of chat. Especially golf chat!