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Five Reasons Why The Ryder Cup Is Like Nothing Else In Sport

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.
With the Ryder Cup, less is most certainly more. As the event takes place every two years (alternating between a venue in Europe or the USA), the excitement levels for both the players and the fans crescendo to a fever pitch. There is no wonder that tennis’ Davis Cup is making major reforms to become a week-long tournament, as for both build-up and then intensity of world-class action, the Ryder Cup is unrivalled. I’m sure the event organisers, The European Tour and PGA of America, are sorely tempted to try and make this an annual event to fill their coffers as as reports suggest that The European Tour generated £80m in revenues from the 2014 event (, enough to sustain its finances until the next event on home soil). However, like the Olympics, the specialness lies in the fact that we fans are made to impatiently wait.

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!)
The quality in both teams this year is incredible and for the first time the entire world’s top 10 are competing; in fact, 17 players out of the top 18 will be in Paris. The USA team has the winners of six of the past eight majors and are understandably the bookies’ favourites to take the spoils. The Ryder Cup however is rarely won on paper and Team Europe have been punching well above their weight for the last quarter of a century. Indeed, the last time the US won on European soil was back in 1993 and, of course, once again, nobody knows how this year’s edition will play out. It is this underdog story that helps to keep pulling the fans back again and again.

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.