Monday, October 8, 2012
Ryder Cup in Review
Questions will undoubtedly be asked of Davis Love III following his side's terrible Ryder Cup defeat last Sunday. How could such a lead be wasted? How could some of the players play so badly?
These questions will, in time, demand answers, but for now, these players will surely still be wallowing in self-pity following the worst comeback defeat of Ryder Cup history. It turns out that winning from 10-6 up on the final day is harder than it looks.
In many ways, this year's Ryder Cup was a one that we will always remember — in the same way USA's triumph at Brookline has been. But in other ways, it is one to be forgotten.
After what has been a tremendous summer of triumph for Britain — with the best ever medal tally for the hosts at the London Olympics, the first Briton to win the Tour de France in the form of Bradley Wiggins, and Andy Murray's sensational U.S. Open win, ending a 76-year wait for a male grand slam winner — to be met by boos on the final day of the Ryder Cup was galling.
Europe were already 4 points behind with only 12 to play for, and needed an astonishing eight wins to retain the trophy. It was out of sight. And yet a majority of American fans saw fit to boo.
Home nation advantage is said to be worth around a point and a half. The crowd is on your side, and the pressure is hugely on your opponents. It is considered appropriate, acceptable, and sporting, to support your team by cheering for them, singing their songs, and trying to gee them up with numerous "come-ons" and "you-can-do-its."
So why, whenever a European player stepped up to the tee, or holed a putt to half or win a hole, were there boos? This was not the case when USA visited Ireland the last time Europe hosted in 2006.
It is not simply the case that there were a few hooligans around the crowd — not to mention the moron who decided to shout, "F*** you, Seve" as the European team saw fit to remember one of their Ryder Cup legends, Severiano Ballasteros, who sadly passed away last year — but a large proportion of USA fans were engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct.
Europe's win should not then brush this under the rug and say "forgive and forget." This problem should be addressed head on. It does not reflect well on the country, or the sport as a whole.
The problem was that many of the supporters attending this year's Ryder Cup at the Medinah Club in Chicago were not golf fans. They take interest when it is the Ryder Cup, of course, because it is team play, and they can support their nation, rather than any individual golfer. There is a very definite and clear idea of who you are supposed to support, and a very clear idea of an opponent.
To boo in golf is not unheard of, but it is rare, and it is usually reserved for Boo Weekley, an American golfer who goes by that name. In his case, it is fine to boo because it is his name and used to support him. However, he was not on the team, so there was no reason to be saying it.
The reason the Ryder Cup became a little out of control is because of those non-dedicated golf fans, who clearly have another sport as their primary focus. It would be impossible to accurately guess what sport most of these fans have as their primary focus without stereotyping, but baseball and American football are both safe bets — they are loud and played outdoors. It is not too far fetched to suggest that these are where the supporters came from this time out.
It is a shame that this is a big talking point when it would be more fitting to talk about the celebrations and the fantastic triumph for golf, with such dramatic scenes attracting millions of viewers across the world. But everyone is talking about that, and no one is daring to confront a very real and very pressing issue.
The Ryder Cup was a fantastic spectacle this year, as it is almost every year that it is played. But this year, whilst the victory for Europe was sensational, victory for golf was bittersweet.