America and Europe prepare to lock horns in the 39th instalment of one of the world’s most illustrious sporting events later this week. Chicago’s Medinah Country Club plays host to the biennial event as Davis Love III’s team attempt to wrestle control of the Samuel Ryder trophy from their fierce rivals and counterparts. With Friday looming it appears that team USA hold the ascendancy and are the bookies favourite to succeed in this prestigious event. This preview looks to explain why Europe have slipped into underdog status.
The set up of the no.3 Course at Medinah Country Club is regulated by the American captain and he holds authority over the vital course set up. The first thing we notice, its long, mammoth in fact. At over 7,600 yards Medinah will be the longest course in Ryder Cup history. Two par-fives stretch over 600 yards and the par three’s are by no means short with the signature 13th perched mercilessly behind a 245 tee shot over the swirling winds of Lake Kadijah. This should favour the Americans because their team is littered with bombers, notably Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson. Whilst some Europeans are just as lengthy their team contains a few less well endowed off the tee, notably Poulter and Donald, rendering tricky long iron approaches on some holes.
Two star studded teams participate in Chicago but America’s seems to be reaching the boil at the right time. Snedeker has just scooped $11.4 million at the Tour Championship and their team boasts multiple wins on the PGA tour this year, including US Open champion and Ryder Cup rookie Webb Simpson. The fact World Matchplay champion Hunter Mahan, (who disposed of both Westwood and McIlroy in the process of claiming the crown) is surplus to requirements this weekend elucidates how prevalent the strength in depth of Love’s team is. Need I remind you a certain Mr Woods just picked up the three victories this year. Nevertheless Europe’s team boasts its own brilliance, Rory McIlroy has enjoyed a purple patch during the most recent major championship and Fed Ex Cup events. Donald and Garcia have impressed at Medinah in 1999 and 2006. Yet the jury is still out on many players. Kaymer is horribly out of form and many poster wether the likes of Colsaerts, Hanson and Molinari, (rare visitors stateside) can thrive under this pressure cooker.
Pressure is established by the crowd, in America they are fierce. Even stalwarts such as McIlroy, Westwood and Donald can expect a feisty reception from the fans. Wether it be the Bears, Red Sox, Cubs or Bulls the Chicago fans will vehemently rally behind their team. The cantankerous attitude of fans at Kiawah Island 1991 and Brookline in 1999 has tainted the history of this great event but Olazabal does not expect the hometown faithful to be any less vociferous at Medinah. At Valhalla in 2008, Azinger labelled the galleries America’s ‘thirteenth man’ and on Friday these aficionados appear only too eager to restore this label.
With Friday looming the golfing world waits for this great rivalry to reignite. America have a great chance to retrieve the trophy lost under such heartbreaking circumstances at Celtic Manor. But the European team, littered with match play stars of their own are intent on showing America their own expertise with a club in hand. This is the last hurrah of a packed and unprecedented summer of sport, but its a cherry on the cake for all of sports followers.
Author: David Grant