In terms of overall experience in previous Ryder Cups Europe have a slight edge ahead of this year’s matches but home advantage could be key in determining the outcome of the 2012 renewal. The match is being played at Medinah Country Club near Chicago and supporters from that sports mad city could inspire the States to win for just the second time in the last six contests.
There are 28 points to play for in this year’s Ryder Cup. That points tally is made up of four foursomes and fourballs on each of the first two days and 12 singles on the third day. Everybody plays in the singles so the maximum number of points that any one player can win is five.
The Untied States team have an advantage in terms experience of the occasion. Davis Love’s side have 28 appearances in their records while European players have formerly appeared on 26 occasions. However, the home side have four rookies in their side while the opposition team includes just one debutant.
Ryder Cup debutants have traditionally done better in home matches so the five new representatives for the US should be able to cope with the unique pressures of the competition. The Ryder Cup is the most sought after prize in team golf and the matches are always keenly contested and that brings its own pressures.
Golfers who have never played in the Ryder Cup question it’s appeal and intensity. However, only when they compete do they realise how much it means to both sides. The matches have become so much more competitive and meaningful since players from Continental Europe became eligible in 1983.
For many renewals up until that year there was little interest due to the fact that the United States almost always won. The Ryder Cup now attracts the third highest television viewing figures for a sporting event, after the Olympics and soccer World Cup. When the rules were first changed proven major champions like Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal became eligible to play.
Ballesteros was passionate about representing Europe and beating his US counterparts. His will and determination became a key feature of the matches in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. He has become an inspiration for subsequent European players and it is he more than anybody who exemplified the intensity of the matches after players from mainland Europe became eligible to play.
Tom Watson once famously introduced his team as the 12 best players in the world, which riled but inspired the Europeans. This was probably a misjudgement by the 8 times major champion and there will be no need for similar boasts this year. This is the strongest Ryder Cup in history in terms of the world rankings of the competitors. Davis Love will have his players well prepared and the United States look the most likely winners of what will be an enthralling contest.