Has The Ryder Cup Lost Its Significance?


As Team Europe cruised to yet another victory in the Ryder Cup, Patrick Kamalu asks the question: is the Ryder Cup still worth playing for?

The champagne was flowing. The scent of victory hung in the air. Euphoria was felt amongst the English, the Swedes, the Spanish and all the other nationalities that make up Team Europe. It was another Ryder Cup success; Europe’s third consecutive victory over the USA.

The USA slumped to their eighth Ryder Cup defeat out of the last ten, giving rise to the question as to whether the average sport enthusiast’s favourite biennial golf tournament is still of any importance.


Phil Mickelson publicly berated Team USA captain Tom Watson after they slumped to a third consecutive defeat

The tournament, which was established nearly 90 years ago, concludes the golf season and showcases some of the world’s leading players. Seeing as every sport needs a long-standing rivalry, the contest between Europe and the USA is seen as one of golf’s two “crown jewel” sporting events; the other one being the Masters.

There is no denying that there were some stunning shots made at this year’s tournament; an example of which being the quite exquisite second to six feet by Sergio Garcia to complete his eagle putt, which came before Welshman James Donaldson’s winning shot on the 15th hole.

But while this certainly provided the ‘wow’ factor, the competition had little else to offer in terms of surprises. Europe had basically won from the word go on day two. This has largely been the case over the past decade and begs the question as to whether the fans still care enough to keep attending and lining the pockets of the promoters.


A rogue deer was one of the few surprises at this year’s Ryder Cup

However, it was not always us Europeans that took the title. In fact the tournament was initially between the USA and Great Britain, a period in which the former took the spoils on a regular (almost embarrassingly frequent) basis.

By 1977, the USA led the head-to-head 18-3; in the period 1959-83, they achieved a 12 tournament streak of consecutive wins (with the exception of a draw in 1969). Such was the overwhelmingly dominant display of golf by the USA during this period that it could be argued that the Ryder Cup had lost its significance even then. While Team Europe was formed in 1979 to improve the competition, it still took another three tournaments before our side of the pond registered success again.

With the head-to-head score currently lying at USA – 25, Europe/Great Britain – 13 the Ryder Cup is certainly still worth playing for.


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