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Is the Ryder Cup the best event in golf?

By Shane Bacon | Blogger
The fans get into the Ryder Cup more than any other event in golf. (Getty Images)

On Friday, the two-year wait will be over as the United States will go up against Europe in what is sure to be an exciting Ryder Cup, and one that is truly up for grabs. It's the first time in years both teams seem stacked from top to bottom and the first time in more than 10 years the Americans seem as good, if not better, than the Europeans, at least on paper.

Beyond all that, the Ryder Cup is a three-day event that takes the game of golf and completely changes it.

Why?

First, it makes golf a team sport. In no other capacity all season is golf a team sport besides the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup (and if I see the word Tavistock in the comments I'm going to lose it), and that makes the event special because it changes the entire state of the game. For eight months, professional golfers are taught to care about themselves, and themselves alone. You care about the money list, the FedEx Cup, your exemptions and what tournaments you're playing. At no point is there a drive or bunker shot or putt that matters for anyone but yourself. Golf is probably the most independent sport of them all.

The Ryder Cup changes that. Now you're playing for your partner, your team, and your country.

On top of that, you're playing formats that are unfamiliar to golfers. Alternate shot? These guys play this once a year and once a year only.

So does that make the Ryder Cup the most exciting event in golf?

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I believe so, mostly because it's so different with so much passion. U.S. captain Davis Love III said earlier this week the Ryder Cup was a "party," but I don't see it as such. The week heading into it is surely a celebration of how awesome all these players are (they'll be the first to tell you), but when the balls are in the air, these guys want to beat the other team's brains out, and you can see it in just about everyone's faces (remember "Boom, Baby"?).

It's tough to drum up the passion that floated around this event back in the 1990s, mostly because these guys all live in the same areas and play on the same tours and share the same private jets. But for country, the stakes change and there is still a different feel to it. And for some reason, that passion and history makes it different than the Presidents Cup.

For all the good the Presidents Cup has to offer, it just isn't the Ryder Cup for a number of reasons. For some reason, when the first group goes out Friday of Ryder Cup week, the friendships end for a few days and the only goal is to beat the guys you're playing, and beat them bad.

The Masters is a special golf tournament for so many reasons, but it's a different type of golf than this. We usually see someone win that event with a dramatic putt, and on Sunday at Augusta National the entire world tunes in, but it isn't this much fun for this many days in a row.

Also, the drama of the Ryder Cup helps it stand alone in the golf world. From the captain's picks to the outfits to the pairings to the singles matches, fans are always anticipating what's coming next. (And it's a little fun to think that during these team matches, four REALLY, REALLY good golfers are being told to sit.)

I love the Ryder Cup mainly because I think it's golf at its most beautiful. For Americans, the final round in 1999 will stand alone as one of the most dramatic and exciting moments in the history of golf. For the Europeans, nothing will be as special as that 1985 win after the Americans had taken every cup since 1959 (with one tie). Moments like the beat-downs in '04 and '06 just add another wrinkle to this intense rivalry.

If nothing else, for a week, golf fans are truly golf FANS, and golfers are teammates doing what everyone else in sports gets to do all the time.

Let's get this thing going, eh?

 
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