Last week we established that if you didn’t watch the Ryder Cup, you hate America. Well, you’re forgiven as long as you acknowledge the awesomeness that comes from the United States winning the Ryder Cup. I don’t want to be longwinded on a Monday morning, but let’s just talk about national unity real quick.
Like the Olympics, but Better in Some Ways
Cosas Totum’s on Blaze Fyre mentioned last week that the Ryder Cup has a similar allure to the Olympics. It’s an international sports competition that takes place every two years, and the location alternates between the United States and Europe. Without getting into the details (because Blaze covered that thoroughly in the linked article above) let’s just give a quick recap: A USA team and a European team of golfers play each other in three different types of golf competition over the course of three days. That’s all you need to know about the gameplay. There are 28 points available, so a team needs 14.5 points to secure a win.
Well, this past weekend the USA won 19–9. Nineteen to nine! That was the worst loss ever for the Europeans, and was a true statement from the Americans. The Americans, by the way, had six rookies, which is half their team, and overall was a very young team, meaning that the success at Whistling Straits this past weekend could be a sign of things to come in 2023, 2025, and beyond, assuming the core members of Team USA can stay healthy and halfway consistent.
I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow recap because frankly ESPN can do that better than I can because this is a part-time gig for me. But allow me to wax poetic for a moment on why this Ryder Cup win is better than the Olympics in some ways.
Both the Ryder Cup and the Tokyo Olympics saw USA victories. The United States had the most total medals and most gold medals in Tokyo this year, in an Olympiad played in the shadows of Covid-19. The US was favored to win the most golds and the most overall medals, and China even did some pretty underhanded accounting to make it look like they won more medals by including medals won by Thailand, Hong Kong, and Macau (by which standards China would have won the most medals). But anyone with a brain and even rudimentary knowledge of China’s disrespect for truth could tell you that China is just trying to show the big, scary West who’s boss.
But the Olympics was not free of controversy. Simone Biles removed herself from some of the gymnastics competitions for mental health reasons, for which she unfairly caught much flack. Team USA fencer Alen Hadzik was implicated in multiple sexual assault allegations dating back to 2013–2015, and in protest his teammates wore pink facemasks before a match against Japan (the USA men’s epee team on which Hadzik was a member finished ninth). And American swimmer Michael Andrew refused to wear a mask or get vaccinated and insisted on going maskless in post-race interviews, much to the chagrin of athletes, media, and Games organizers.
In other words, there was plenty of off-the-field controversy for Team USA in the Olympics.
But the Ryder Cup was different. The Ryder Cup was twelve Americans coming together and getting down to business without creating controversy, and having a good time to boot. Those twelve guys (Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Harris English, Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger, and Collin Morikawa) realized what was at stake and just went out and did what they had to do to regain some pride and legitimacy for USA golf. Everyone contributed. Everyone. The team, in all likelihood, would not have won the whole thing without any one of those guys.
And they knew it was for something bigger. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have a notoriously churlish pissing match of a rivalry going right now, but they got over themselves because they knew bringing victory back to the United States is more important than some weird personal spat. And they destroyed the Europeans. The unity they felt in the pursuit of United States victory transcended whatever disagreements that might have had otherwise. There are many athletes who could learn from that, really.
I mean…come on, right? That’s awesome, isn’t it? Just guys bein’ dudes, and Americans being American.
And look, no one has any ill will towards the European team. I love Jon Rahm. That dude is a golf robot who has been programmed to look like he’s having fun, and that’s awesome. Tommy Fleetwood’s hair is second to none. Paul Casey looks like an accountant who just happens to be great at golf, and I respect that sort of John Everyman appeal. Sergio Garcia has grown to be one of my favorite players to watch. Rory McIlroy is one of the most likeable guys in golf. Matt Fitzpatrick seems like he’d be fun to grab a beer with. Tyrrell Hatton is fun to watch. Lee Westwood has that mysterious quality that makes every match he’s part of a little bit dramatic. Shane Lowry is built about like I am so it makes me feel great that a dude with more around that middle than most can compete at that high a level. Ian Poulter is a consummate pro. Bernd Wiesberger has the look and name of someone who would be on the staff of an EU delegate. And Viktor Hovland is an absolute boy wonder at 24 years of age. The Europeans aren’t bad people. I don’t root for their demise in any situation other than the Ryder Cup.
So let’s get back to the victorious Americans for a bit. These guys came together for a common cause. They listened to the wisdom of the captain, Steve Stricker, and his vice captains, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Zach Johnson, and Jim Furyk. They brought together wildly different styles of play, from Cantlay’s no-nonsense talent to Bryson DeChambeau’s built-in-a-laboratory strategy to Tony Finau’s let’s-just-go-have-fun-and-kick-some-ass attitude, all for a common good. Personal beefs were set aside, the normal reserved nature of golf was set aside so Justin Thomas could chug beer while the crowd started another “USA!” chant, and ultimately Team USA walked away with the hardward.
This was a young team that could play together for at least five or six more Ryder Cups if they can stay healthy. The US could be on a road to domination that would help further reinject the love of golf into this country as it did when Tiger Woods was tearing up courses around the world. It was victory, decisive and largely without drama. It showed that a team of Americans can come together to accomplish some larger goal, and in times like these it’s good to be reminded of that.