The Ryder Cup was pure theatre

By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ

It’s nearly two months since the Ryder Cup.

But the memories are still strong.

This was one of the most compelling sporting events I have watched on television.

It helps a lot when the side you are cheering goes on to win.

But just hold it there for a moment. I was asked by a fellow golfer how do you choose who to cheer for when it’s a United States versus Europe event?

A fair question, I thought. Is it that many New Zealanders have a British background? Or is it that many of us have a greater dislike of the Americans ? Probably both, was my answer.

Many of us were also probably cheering for the Europeans because they were clearly the underdogs. The rankings of most of the American team were much higher than the Europeans.

But what made the tournament compulsive viewing for me was not so much the players, but the crowd.

About 50,000 spectators turned up for each of the three days of competition. Whenever a European player made a good shot, cheers were ringing around the Le Golf National course near Paris in France.

We couldn’t wait to see, for example, Ian Poulter thumping his chest and his eyes popping whenever did something noteworthy. At the same time the crowd would be roaring in support. This was not polite applause but hearty shouts of absolute delight.

Some of the crowd was a little naughty by cheering when an American missed a putt. Probably not the done thing but it underlined the passion.

It was just staggering to watch the might and power of the United States slowly being dismantled by players from England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.

The Americans simply did not combine. Tiger Woods seemed lethargic.

But on the European side, the pairing of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood — later to be termed Moliwood — were like Torvill and Dean (remember them?) on the ice skating rink. Sergio Garcia stepped up with whoever he was paired with and so did Poulter despite both not having been in great form for the year.

As far as our viewing was concerned, it certainly helped that the morning sessions of the tournament were in the evening our time. But some couldn’t resist at watching more.

I saw a friend at the golf club one morning and he admitted to tiredness. I said why. He replied that he was going to watch the golf until midnight but he became so enthralled in the drama that he stayed up to 2am.

I could understand why. The golf was pure theatre.

We perhaps under estimate the European team. The Americans have not won a Ryder Cup away from home for 25 years. Europe’s win in September was it’s ninth in the last 12 years. They are very telling statistics.

The Ryder Cup is played once every two years. In between times the Americans play non Europe in what is called the Presidents’ Cup.

This is a much younger tournament, with the first event being held in 1994. The Americans have dominated the Presidents’ Cup even though it does not necessarily attract all of its top players.

The Americans have so far won 10 of the 12 Presidents’ Cups. One of the cups resulted in a tie while the international team’s only win came at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 1998.

Royal Melbourne is the venue of next year’s Presidents’ Cup from December 9-15. Will you be there?

Editor’s note: Just in case you do not know the names Torvill and Dean they were British ice dancers who at the 1984 winter Olympics won gold medal and became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time for a single programme, receiving 12 perfect sixes and six 5.9s. The world, or at least the Brits, fell in love with them.

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