As a national competition, it’s generally accepted that Americans would be pulling for the United States team in this week’s 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Despite a generally stronger team, at least on paper, the United States is only 3 – 9 in the last 12 Ryder Cup competitions, with Europe’s underdog squads continually finding ways to frustrate the American dozen.
In 2018, a powerhouse group of Americans, including Tiger Woods, who was just a week removed from his win the Tour Championship, took a 3-0 lead in the first morning four ball matches, perhaps signaling the beginning of a rout. Instead, the Europeans took the final match of the morning then swept the afternoon foursomes, and came back the next morning to capture the first three fourball contests to complete a streak of eight consecutive winning matches.
…Let’s face it, the Americans just can’t seem to consistently defeat the Europeans…
The team from Europe would go on to paste the Americans by a score of 17 ½ to 10 ½ to easily win back the Cup they had relinquished in 2016. So why exactly would I choose to root for the Europeans over the United States?
They Play With Enthusiasm
Maybe it’s the chip on their collective shoulders or just that they are generally considered underdogs, but the players from Europe look like they actually want to be playing in the Ryder Cup. Most of the Americans, with the exception of a handful like Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, and Boo Weekley in the past, look like kids who got dragged to their cousin’s wedding.
Led by the likes of Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, the European team seems more supportive of each other and they tend to have a better grasp of playing as a team. They read each other’s putts, consult on strategy and appear to understand what it takes to use their individual skills for the sake of the pairing, instead of barely speaking to each other and only using their own caddie for advice.
It’s Fun to Pull for the Underdog
Who is really more compelling, Dustin Johnson with his multiple majors, emotionless swagger, and immense physical talent, or Ian Poulter with his flashy wardrobe, flamboyant style and pure joy at making long putt after long putt like daggers thrust into the hearts of the United States team? For me, there isn’t much of a choice, as I’ll take Poulter and Garcia every time, just waiting to see what magic they can manufacture to take down Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Brooks Koepka with their combined eight major championships.
I’m Tired of Cheering for a Loser
Let’s face it, the Americans just can’t seem to consistently defeat the Europeans, at least not since players like Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, and Colin Montgomery showed up on the scene. What was once a cakewalk for the U.S. when it was just England on the other side has become an outright exercise in futility.
Sure, every once in a while the Americans actually show up to play or the Europeans really do have an inferior team, but the U.S. has only won three times since 1995 and has taken consecutive Cups only once since 1985. Does that sound like the team you want to pin your golf hopes on for three days in September?