Why the Ryder Cup Has Lost Its Luster

Justin Leonard's putt to win the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline was magical.
Justin Leonard’s putt to win the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline was magical.

The Ryder Cup used to be one of my favorite golfing sporting events. The comeback at the “Battle of Brookline” in 1999 was magical because I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I was on the edge of my seat! But now that the United States has lost the last three consecutive Ryder Cup matches, I’m losing interest.

The Europeans play as a team, whereas the United States plays as a group of individuals masquerading as a team. Americans are born and bred to kick each other’s butts on the golf course. Friendships be damned! That’s not the case with the Europeans, who seem to consider the team accomplishment of winning a Ryder Cup for their side as superseding any individual accolade they could possibly receive. It’s a shame too. But when one side dominates the other, viewers tend to lose interest. I don’t feel the same passion emanating from the Americans that I do from the Europeans.

As amazing as the "battle at Brookline was, the "Meltdown at Medinah was equally embarrassing.
As amazing as the “Battle of Brookline was, the “Meltdown at Medinah in 2012 was equally as embarrassing.

As exciting as the 1999 Ryder Cup was to watch, the 2012 “Meltdown at Medinah” was equally embarrassing to witness. The 39th Ryder Cup saw an extraordinary comeback by Europe under captain Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain. The Europeans were down 10-4 after 14 matches, with two four-ball matches still on the course and 12 singles matches to be played the next day. Despite being down 10–6 going into the final day, Europe came back to win 14½ points to 13½. Out of the 12 points up for grabs on the final day, Europe won 8½ of them!

Martin Kaymer struck the putt (coincidentally, a putt almost identical in length to the one that fellow German Bernhard Langer missed at the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island) that retained the cup for Europe. Francesco Molinari secured the final half-point to win the Ryder Cup outright by winning the 18th hole to halve his match against Tiger Woods. Ian Poulter of the European team finished this Ryder Cup with a perfect 4–0 record. He also played an instrumental role in team morale, with emotional outbursts during each of his matches.

Until the Americans get back in the winner’s circle, I will only watch from afar.

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