First off, I have to agree with Feherty here. Woods sort of exemplifies my riff below. Tiger is more about Tiger than country or team, or at least used to be. (I think he’s more into it as he’s aged.)
Over the course of my lifetime, for sure, the Ryder Cup has grown into a bit of a monster, with hints of overt nationalism, accusations of cheating, wildly unruly fans, and some seriously great and horrid shots under a very powerful sphincter-tightening pressure-cooking microscope. If you understand the game (it’s fabulously difficult, physics-micro-fractions from perfection to horror when hitting a ball a long way with a long stick to a very small target, yet as many different ways to to do it properly as there are golfers–it is the most naturally…”selfish” (?) of major sports), you can understand the drama. It’s a TV natural.
As for the golf, there’s always been a fascinating dichotomy to me, at least over my lifetime, in which it has been very clear to me that the Europeans play better team golf, which when you consider about 90% of golf at that level goes on between the ears, in the minds of the players, and that over the course of my lifetime the Americans have generally been considered to have the better individual set of golfers going in yet regularly get beat, and that oh yes team golf is very different from individual golf, questions are raised as to Why?
One theory that bounces around in my head from time to time is political, to blame/credit soshulism/capitulsim. Nobody ever worries too much if the Americans are down a point or two going into singles, because the American mentality is much more Randian and individually driven, and we usually kick the Yurpean asses in singles, after getting drubbed during the team play. It’s as if the Europeans lift each other up when they’re together, and the Americans aren’t quite comfortable until they’re out there on their own. At least that’s how it seems to me. And that there’s a political metaphor and scientific conclusions to be reached (that are probably beyond our current capabilities) about how national character is indeed influential in the outcome of the Event.
There is no other sport that approaches golf, and the Ryder Cup in particular, as a representation of some of the outcomes of our national characters and politics, because no other sport mixes and matches formats and teams on a regular basis as does golf, which is generally played as an individual sport.
As a possibly ex-golfer, I’m so bad now I’m considering retirement, it sure is a lot of fun to watch. Especially when it’s on a course you’ve walked, if not been connected enough to play.
I have no idea who will win.