Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ryder? I don't even know her

I hate the Ryder Cup.

Well, that's actually not true. The Ryder Cup (and Presidents' Cup) is actually a lot of fun to watch and is one of the biggest events of the year in golf. What I actually hate is the fact that golf announcers treat qualifying for the tournament as a matter of life and death.

For the uninitiated, the Ryder Cup is a bi-annual 12 vs. 12 team golf matchup between the USA and Europe. The 12 player on each team are split into various combinations for two best-ball pairs matches on Friday, two alternate-shot pairs matches on Saturday, and the final Sunday when the dozen Americans are randomly paired against the dozen Europeans in head-to-head matches. Each team has a captain, usually an older golf star, who arranges who plays with who, and selects two golfers as "captain's picks" to join the 10 men who qualified through a points system. The event is incredibly tense because it's the rare case in golf where these guys who are trained to play for themselves have to bond together as a team.

The thing about it is, over the last few weeks, golf announcers have treated the major storyline in golf as qualifying for the Ryder Cup, which it isn't. The British Open was three weeks ago. The PGA Championship is this weekend.* The Ryder Cup is important, sure, but it's not the be-all and end-all in pro golf.

Now, the other storyline about the Ryder Cup is that the USA is in a huge slump. The Ryder was originally a USA versus Great Britain format and then a USA versus Great Britain and Ireland format, but these were scrapped since the States won virtually every time. In 1979, the format changed to the Americans versus Europe, and since then, Europe is 7-6, including four of the last five. As a result, there is a lot of hand-wringing by pundits and announcers that some of the players that are currently set to qualify for the Cup for the States are making their first Ryder appearances, and thus don't have the "experience" necessary to handle the Ryder Cup pressure.

This is, frankly, idiotic. Perhaps part of the reason there's so much pressure is because everyone is saying that these guys are underexperienced. It's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Team Europe always looks like they're having a ball, always seem to have a few colorful characters (i.e. Jesper Parnevik, Ian Poulter, Darren Clarke) on the team, and as a result seem to play a lot looser. They're just a lot more fun to watch.

Also, part of the reason the USA has lost in the last decade is because so many of the so-called Ryder veterans (i.e. Davis Love III, one of my least favourite golfers and probably the most overrated PGA player of the last two decades) have sucked it up in recent years. Getting new blood in should be a cause for celebration for Team USA, rather than cause for a lot of pissing and moaning.

In any case, that concludes my post about golf, which I'm sure about two of you found exciting. On the bright side, it's not another post about my deodorant.

* = ok, the PGA may not be all that exciting since everyone agrees that Tiger Woods is going to steamroll everyone. My call is Tiger by five shots.

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