The Ryder Cup sets itself apart from golf’s other Major events, like the Open, the US Open and the Masters, because it only happens twice a year, the golfers play head to heads in teams and, most significantly, there is no big fat cheque for anyone to take home at the end of it. The Ryder Cup is all about bragging rights and spectator entertainment. It quashes egos and brings to the fore team spirit in a sport that normally only deals with the individual. It creates more moments of excitement and tension than any other golfing tournament because there are so many more variables contributing to that overall win. If you are European or American, when you watch the Ryder Cup you get to cheer on a whole team, which means if one stumbles there’s always a chance that another can pick up the baton, never allowing your allegiance to falter.
In the age of sporting corporatisation it is remarkable to think that a tournament like this is still being played with no prize at stake. Winning one of the majors will, if they are not already, make a golfer a millionaire. Las Vegas, home of the quick buck, will be home to a head to head match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson over the Thanksgiving period this year. The prize? 9 million dollars will be given to the winner. This single golfing event may well be the beginning of a new era in the sport, where individual head to heads prove to be more lucrative when aimed at today’s pay-per-view audience. How long will it be before Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth have to appear at press junkets and insult each other’s backswing to get the viewing figures up?
Yet, in amongst all this potential for an Andy Kaufman sketch sits a tournament that pays the winners nothing, a tournament that every European and American golfer wants to be part of. It is a rare moment of comradery in a sport where winner normally takes all. Names that that have never managed to lift the Major trophies, Colin Montgomerie, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood and that legend of the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter, turn up and make a difference, not for themselves but for the team.
In that spirit of solidarity it is almost impossible to think of another sport that allows Europeans to get together under one flag and play as a team. Continental competition is almost unheard outside of the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup. It seems to be a phenomenon that exists almost exclusively in the world of golf, with a few exceptions, such as the Weber Cup in 10-pin bowling and the Mosconi Cup in nine-ball pool and the Laver Cup in Tennis. In a period when European stability is in a state of flux, a tournament like the Ryder Cup is an important way to remind Europeans that we work better when we’re together than when we isolate ourselves. That despite the array of languages, the vast cultural differences, the wars we’ve fought amongst ourselves and the boundaries that are still questioned, we have so much more in common. And what better way to unite a continent than to get one over on those noisy upstarts across the Atlantic?
The Ryder Cup has been played every two years since 1927, not including the 10 years between 1937 and 1947. Originally the tournament was played between golfers from the USA and Great Britain and was utterly dominated by the Americans, with the USA winning the competition 15 times between 1923 and 1971. During this time the Brits managed to win the Ryder Cup a woeful 3 times, something that saw no improvement with the inclusion of the Irish in 1973, as the USA would go on to win all three tournaments that pitted them against the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Further changes were needed and if the Ryder Cup was to become genuinely competitive and in 1979 the whole of Europe got together with an almighty whimper, which saw the Americans win another 3 tournaments in a row. When Europe finally lifted the Ryder Cup in 1985 it was the first time that the trophy had not rested in American hands since 1957.
As with all Ryder Cups, that one in 1985 will be remembered, not just for the Sam Torrance birdy putt, the conclusion to the tournament’s central narrative that sealed victory for Europe, but also for its subplots. The most famous of all of these was the battle between Seve Ballesteros and Tom Kite, a contest saw the swarthy Spaniard drag himself back into contention, 3 down with 4 holes to play, and tie the head to head. It was a subplot that had been sparked two years prior when Europe had come close but failed to break the curse that seemed to be plaguing them. Ballesteros had shone in 83, and after the tournament he had told his teammates that only losing by 1 point and pushing the American’s to the bitter end meant that they had proved Europe could win. Ballesteros took defeat and spun it on its head, sowing the seeds of Europe’s victory two years later. Part of what has made Seve Ballesteros a legend of the sport is the influence he had in making the Ryder Cup a spectacle again, one that was viewed by a crowd of over 40,000 on that final day at the Belfry.
The Ryder Cup is no longer a joke that the Americans get to write the punchline for. It is real competition, one that either side can win. As things stand, the American’s have won the most Ryder Cups by miles, if you include the pitiful days prior to full European involvement. If you count the tournaments since 1979 then Europe leads by 2, 10 to 8. In 2016 the Americans ran riot, winning the tournament by 6 matches. They are favourites again this year with most pundits unable to see a way for the Europeans to wrestle the trophy back. 6 of the last 8 majors have been won by Americans. The Europeans are fielding 5 rookies, whilst the Americans only have 1 in their team, which is one of the big reasons why the US won so easily two years ago. The final nail the European coffin has to be that, quite simply, America has the best players in the world today, with over half of the top 30 ranked golfers in the world being from the US.
Europe might have home advantage. They might have the number one ranked player in the world. They might even get to be the underdog, a label that has served them well in the past. Winning majors does not necessarily win you the Ryder Cup, but if guns are held to temples and a winner is demanded, surely no one calls Europe? The rational brains, the ones that want to remain in one piece between two ears, will put their money on the Americans. But surely we don’t watch sport to be rational? If we can’t be irrational when watching sport then please tell me what hope there is there for Scottish football fans or Eddie the Eagle? Once the tournament is over pundits will come and explain to you why the team who won did so with consummate rational analysis.
Despite everything I’ve written you might not be American or European, you might not give a single rat’s ass about some stupid golfing cup. What can be done to persuade those who never sully their lives with long onerous walks through manicured countryside, walks that we’ve had to pay a hefty sum for the privilege, whilst we dress in clothes that resemble a court jester and swear profanities at sticks of carbon fibre that never seem to do what the hell we want them to? What if all you know about golf is that Tiger Woods plays and it’s all back to front because low numbers be good and high numbers be bad? Well, honestly the chances are that I’m flogging a dead horse and that you checked out of this article after seeing the world “golf” but if you love the drama that comes with the very best sporting encounters then there will be something here for you. It might not be until the last day, until the last few putts but if you can invest and stick around for those moments. If you can wrap yourself in the Stars and Stripes or the Whatever the European flag is called. If you can sup a Bud or a Heiny and forget that you know nothing about hitty ball stick then maybe you can let the twists and turns of a bloody good plot enthral you.
Ryder Cup Related Slots Games
Golden Tour is a very simple slots game that brings all of golf’s paraphernalia to the fore. We have golf clubs, golf balls, golf carts and even pints of beer to swill after a gruelling 18 holes. Golden Tour hits all the relevant golfing symbols and sinks for a hole in one with an excellent house edge.
Play the game for free here.
Gold Trophy 2
We’re sticking with the Gold theme for this game as Gold Trophy 2 sees us hit the fairways with a game that looks quite a bit better than Golden Tour. The symbols have a bit more about them this time round and there are more features to play around with.
Play the game for free here.
A Night in Paris
This year’s Ryder Cup takes place in Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France, just a few miles outside of Paris, so what better game to look at than A Night in Paris? The game looks fantastic, with amazing views of the French capital. The game has a narrative, there’s a burglary, a bad guy, a policeman and his dog. There’s French music, croissants and dodgy accents to keep you well and truly entertained.
Play the game for free here.
It wouldn’t be fair to have a game about Paris and leave Las Vegas out of things, now would it? Vegas, the home of slot machines and the new 9 million dollar head-to-head match between America’s two biggest golfing stars was the obvious destination. Vegas Nights takes us there when the city is at its best. Bright lights, garish shows and everyone having a great time, makes for the perfect slots game.
Play the game for free here.
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