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September 28, 2012 9:11 pm
Since 1985, the European team have had the edge over the US in the Ryder Cup. Yet just three of their nine victories in this period have come on US soil. Golf author Tom Cox considers four reasons why Europe will find life tough in Medinah, Illinois, this weekend
1. War mentality
Once, the Ryder Cup meant America versus Great Britain and Ireland – and almost certain victory for the US, who won 19 of the 22 cups played after the competition began in 1927. Then, in 1979, it was decided to send in the rest of Europe for back-up and the balance of power slowly shifted.
2. Spousal power
Since the 1980s days of Debbie Couples, late ex-wife of mercurial Ryder Cupper Fred, American wives have been notably louder, blonder and more brightly dressed than their European counterparts. Their support has also been known to encroach on the action itself, such as in 1999, at Brookline, Massachusetts, when, in premature victory celebrations, numerous American wives and partners ran on to the green during José María Olazábal’s match with Justin Leonard, before Olazábal had a chance to putt to keep the match alive. Olazábal missed, America won, relations went downhill.
3. The 13th man
US and European crowds have different ways of shouting. European fans opt for a kind of rising “whhhhhooooaey” noise, while US fans prefer incisive, individual commentary such as “Get in the hole!” In Medinah, the latter could become louder than ever this weekend after the PGA encouraged fans to show their support by wearing red and to become the American team’s “13th man”.
4. It’s all in the name
One might assume that if you’ve a crazy name such as Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley or Webb Simpson, you might be a crazy golfer too: loose, unpredictable. Not so. In every Ryder Cup America fields at least three players with baffling names who nobody really notices but who make millions of dollars every year. These players can struggle on foreign soil particularly on Britain’s wet and windy links courses – but play their best on America’s flawless fairways.
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