This morning, the Ryder Cup officially got underway just outside Chicago as 12 of the best golfers the United States has to offer go heads up with 12 of the best golfers from Europe. Here are five quick reasons why you need to drop everything you’re doing and turn on some golf on a Friday afternoon:
1. Everything you love about the World Cup, you’ll love about the Ryder Cup
The vast majority of casual sports fans only care about soccer once every four years for the World Cup. And rightfully so. It is one of the greatest events in all of sports. We love it because it gives a renewed sense of national pride, and there the end result is clear. You’re either the last team standing, or you lose. Plain and simple.
Well, that’s the Ryder Cup. Nobody entering this battle royale is saying “Sure, I’d like to win, but as long as I have a strong showing, I’ll be happy”. No! There is not “strong showing” unless you win! It makes every drive, chip and putt all that much more important. You can’t afford one screw up, because the other nation will jump all over you if you do.
2. It takes an otherwise individual game and forms it into a team sport
Normally, golf is a mental obstacle course where it’s less about you against the other golfers and more about you against the golf course itself. Not the case with the Ryder Cup. Since this it is a match play style competition, nobody is keeping track of how many strokes you’re under par. Instead, it’s about if you played stronger on a hole than your direct competition in your group.
Most importantly, your play is directly linked to your playing partner on the first couple of days. It doesn’t matter if you have a really good hole. If your teammate has a real stinker, everybody suffers. And, there is no way for you to win the Cup on your own. You cannot earn enough team points by yourself. Everybody needs to be at the top of their games to claim the crown. Nobody will talk about how well someone like Webb Simpson played in the Ryder Cup unless the United States wins. The amount of pressure on your shoulders for every shot is unmatched in any other event on the golf calender.
3. You can visually tell the golfers really care
You get slapped in the face with emotion from these guys once you turn it on. In a normal event, watching golf can get boring because everybody, regardless of the situation, tend to show little emotion and keep everything internal (that is, except for Tiger).
Here? It’s like you’re watching a completely different sport all together. Nothing makes that more obvious than when Bubba Watson walked up to the first tee for the first time in the Cup, got everybody out of their seats in the grandstand, got them loud and teed off with everybody going nuts behind him. Remember how you’re supposed to be dead silent during any golf shot? No way, not during the Ryder Cup. The players thrive on the emotion. It fuels them to play better and pit themselves against the other nation.
If a player messes up, you can see it in their face and with their body. If they drill a huge putt, they transform into fist-pumping, high-fiving teenagers that just saw their first boob. And it is absolutely fantastic.
4. You can’t help but start really disliking the other team
And what’s more American than that? I mean, seriously.
For example, the previous, I don’t know, forever in my life, if you asked me what my feelings were towards Ian Poulter, I would’ve hesitated, really thought hard, then responded “The golfer?” I have never felt, well, anything about the man. I just didn’t care.
Now, after maybe four hours of watching Ryder Cup coverage, I sent the following text to my good friend and fellow blogger Vinny Ginardi:
“I officially hate Ian Poulter. As much as Phillies fans.”
Whoa! What a transformation! Seriously, watch this guy for even 30 minutes, you’ll hate him, too. He just has this snarl that really, really, really pisses me off. He cares so much about this event that it makes me care about the event. And he isn’t American, so he’s not allowed to care about this event as much as I do. I want to win more than him now. Only, he wants to win more than me. I want to punch him right in the face. Get off my course, douche.
Anyways, yeah, that’s going to happen to you, too. So, there’s that.
5. THIS IS AMERICA!
NOBODY MAKES ME BLEED MY OWN BLOOD! NOBODY!
Seriously, if there is anything us Americans can be counted on, it’s our irrational national pride in sporting events. It’s why we all gave a shit about our women’s water polo team during the Olympics, and not just with a passing interest. We love winning, but we hate losing even more. We don’t stand for losing. Unacceptable.
So tune in, tune out and start chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! uncontrollably at your TVs. Start fist-pumping like Tiger and awkwardly doing the high-five into a handshake that Keegan Bradley has adeptly added to his resume.
Seriously, this is amazing television. Just start watching. Right now.