With a matter of minutes until the first foursome match kicks off in Chicago, I wanted to explain why I’m more excited than usual to watch the battle between USA and Europe rekindled once again (and yes it may have something to do with the rather long spell since my last post). The truth is that since the high emotions and superhuman efforts of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes, it has been difficult to find that same level of sporting drama and entertainment.
Of course, when I say this to other sports fans they stare in some disbelief, as if I’m not aware that the new football season is well under way. This is true and, so far, both the English Premier League and Champions League have started from where they left off, with plenty of goals and unexpected comebacks already. Real Madrid’s dramatic 3-2 victory in the Bernabeu has been one of the highlights.
Yet, in my opinion, Andy Murray’s first Grand Slam win came much closer to the task. It was a brutal encounter, one that Murray perhaps would never have recovered from had it turned out to be his fifth loss in a Grand Slam. Instead, the Scot won the hearts of the nation again as he defeated Novak Djokovic in five sets. This has to be one of the standout sporting moments of 2012. The only disappointing thing was that before the final, the Olympic gold medalist still did not have the full support of a nation, as so many had doubted him.
Which brings me onto the Ryder Cup. With any individual sport, when national pride is brought into the mix, there is no match for excitement. The memories of a home victory for Team Europe in 2010 are still fresh in the mind. Graeme McDowell’s winning putt ended what was arguably one of the best finishes in the history of the Ryder Cup.
The final day of the Ryder Cup 2010:
Fast forward to 2012 and the tournament has one of the most competitive line-ups ever seen. The USA team will be hoping that Tiger Woods can finally bring his good form into a Ryder Cup tournament, having disappointed in the past. Yet, the team no longer relies on the former world number one. They have talented newcomers such as Keegan Bradley that have been the in form players of 2012. Then there is always a wealth of experience from Ryder Cup regulars like Phil Mickelson, who has had some consistent top ten results this year.
For Europe, there is much to look forward to. With the inspirational figure of Jose Maria Olazabal as Ryder Cup Captain this year, the team will not be lacking in passion. You only had to watch the emotions of yesterday’s opening ceremony to see the sentimental qualities of the former Ryder Cup champion. And the team have a title to retain of course. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will begin proceedings and those two alone represent the quality of the European team.
The Americans will have the home advantage this time around. The crowds in Chicago are apparently notorious for their unconditional and wild support of their teams. Although, there has already been some surprise with the course at Medinah. With no obvious advantage for Team USA, the opportunity for Europe to win their fifth tournament in recent years should not be overlooked.
So, with the official ceremonies out of the way and little time to wait, let’s hope that the Ryder Cup can provide us with tense moments, great celebrations and plenty of chants of ‘USA’ and ‘Europe’. Time for another famous sporting chapter in 2012.