Last night The Ryder Cup concluded with, in the end, Team USA emphatically winning 17-10 to win for the first time since 2008 – but that does not even begin to tell the story of the tournament.
The Ryder Cup is a very special, unique competition that catches the imagination of large audiences. People, like myself, who have no proper knowledge, affiliation or general interest in the sport suddenly get hooked. The reason for this, I believe, is its unique approach. It becomes a team game with everyone pulling together for an end result. Similar to 20/20 cricket, the variance in the matches are enjoyable to watch. It is no longer who can do 18 holes in the fewest shots, there are foursomes, four ball and 1v1 match play which means the result is never certain and can change throughout. When USA went 4-0 up after the first round, fans may have feared the worst but the quality and commitment of Team Europe kept them in the competition and at one point during yesterday’s action there was a hint they could win it when they were winning 7 of the individual matches.
What has to be expressed is how impressive the action was. Coming from someone with only real basic knowledge of the sport I have real admiration for the quality of all the players on show and a real respect for the show they managed to put on. Commentators on both Sky and 5 live kept referencing just how good the action was and that, in a way, may make the result all the more impressive from an American point of view. It could also make the result frustrating from a European perspective as they did not play badly at all.
I was particularly impressed by Patrick Reed, who for me was the best player over the 3 days for either side. Having no previous experience of watching him I was left amazed by some of the shots he played and on the odd occasion he did play into trouble, he played fantastically well to pull it back. From Team Europe I was most impressed by Henrik Stensson. The Open Champion, similar to Reed, played with a confidence that was impressive to watch and his all round play was of the highest calibre.
A lot of talk in the build-up was about the amount of rookies, particularly in Team Europe. I was very impressed in Thomas Pieters and Cabrera Bello. These both played fantastically well at won some very valuable points over the three days – clearly not affected by the pressure of the occasion. Not to be outshone, the more established names to the part time viewer such as Mickelson, Garcia and Rose played their part with some moments of real quality.
Highlights for me were the matches between Rose/Stensson v Reed/Speith, the final round between McIlroy and Reed and some of the passion displayed by all the players. I enjoyed the Americans getting pumped up by their fans as well as moments such as McIlroy saying “I can’t hear you” and Pieters producing a shhh sign. Throughout the three days I was thoroughly entertained by McIlroys passion.
The one that did surprise was I expected Speith to play better. Not suggesting by any stretch he was poor, but I felt confident watching his matches that Europe would beat him both in team play and individual match play.
I feel the only difference between the sides were the putters, USA made the ball drop where as it would not happen for Europe.
Finally, the fans. There was much talk before hand, particularly after the blog published by Danny Willet’s brother, about the American fans. I myself for the most part enjoyed it and felt it added to the occasion. The chanting was entertaining. There were times where I couldn’t work out what they were saying and sometimes hearing the same “get in the water” and “get in the hole” was a little annoying but by and large the banter between fans and players was well received.
I am not going to suggest I am becoming a golf fanatic at all, but I am looking forward to Paris in 2018.
Photos taken from legendsgc.com, Dailymail.co.uk, golfchannel.com and metrouk2.