|1. It’s Golf. But not as you know it.|
Individual sportspeople, by their nature, are often selfish and driven exclusively by the desire to improve their own performance; so seeing some of the best golfers in the world unite as part of a collective - setting aside their rivalries, the pursuit of prize money and ranking points, for a common goal - is particularly thrilling. This team nature of the Ryder Cup provides a wealth of different narratives and these unpredictable storylines play out over five intense sessions of golf and the momentum of a Ryder Cup ebbs and flows in a way that no individual golf tournament can match. Players have the unique opportunity to etch themselves into the history books off the back of their Ryder Cup exploits; take Ian Poulter for example, a charismatic pro with a solid career behind him, whose legend is secured by his incredible performances in the event, particularly as the talisman of Europe’s amazing comeback at Medinah in 2012. Can one of Team Europe’s five rookies be the hero this year and reap the adulation (and commercial opportunities) that will undoubtedly follow?
2. It’s three magic days every two years.
|3. It’s all about the fans.|
These first two factors are crucial as to why the Ryder Cup transcends beyond the core golf fan audience to reach a wider sporting one. As the fans either root for one team or another, support isn’t ‘diluted’ behind particular individuals and, whilst American fans need little excuse to rally behind Team USA, it is fairly unique for the whole continent of Europe to unite under one banner. According to research from Nielsen Sports, fan sizes for the upcoming tournament have surged by more than 6.7 million people compared to the same period ahead of the last event to be hosted in Europe in 2014. Perhaps the Ryder Cup is the next event that is ripe for the Netflix/ Amazon Prime treatment – an ‘All or Nothing’ style behind-the-scenes documentary could only grow this casual audience.
With its partisan nature, the atmosphere at the event doesn’t disappoint either. Over 55,000 fans are expected at Le Golf National during each day of the action and a huge 6,500 seat grandstand has been set-up behind the first tee, so the players can expect a wall of noise to greet them at the start of every match. The format of the event also means that the action tends to be focused on a concentrated area of the course, so unlike a typical tournament, where the fans are spread across acres of terrain, at the Ryder Cup there is a much more intense (and often raucous) atmosphere.
4. It features the best players in the world (and Team Europe tend to have the edge!)
|5. And to top off this year’s edition… Tiger’s back.|
The timing of Tiger Woods’ 80th tournament win at The Tour Championship couldn’t have come at a better time and it is brilliant news that a fit, healthy, and in-form Woods takes his place in the US team. You only need to look at the TV viewing figures from that victory to understand the impact that Woods still holds - NBC saw a 206% ratings increase compared to the 2017 tournament. Yet, Woods’ Ryder Cup record isn’t hugely impressive for one of the all-time greats of the game (Won 13, Lost 17, Halved 3) and whether he can turn it around this year provides yet another glorious sub-plot. Anyone for a Woods vs McIlroy head-to-head to secure the winning point?
Whoever you’re supporting, whatever the result, it is fair to say that with the Ryder Cup, drama, magic, and potential greatness are par for the course.