posted on: Thursday September 30, 2010
Nick Aiken ’12/Asst. Sports Editor
Every other year, the best golfers from the United States and Europe gather together for one of golf’s most prestigious and historically rich events, the Ryder Cup. Characterized by thunderous roars, zealous team spirit, rapturous celebrations, and occasional cataclysm, the Ryder Cup is a unique event which most players prioritize over any of the four majors.
In recent years, the Europeans have dominated the event, but this year, the United States finally enters the Ryder Cup as defending champions. They reclaimed the cup on their home soil in 2008, even without top player Tiger Woods. But this year, Woods returns as a captain’s pick, and so does the chaos, passion, excitement, fervor, and drama that have become synonymous with the Ryder Cup.
The Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales, is a pristine and picturesque venue specifically designed to stage the 2010 Ryder Cup. Opened in July 2007, the course measures 7,493 yards and has a par of 71. The whole course is played along the floor of the Usk Valley, and consequently, breathtaking views can be taken in on every hole. Water comes into play on nine holes, creating several risk or reward opportunities which could prove to be the deciding factor in many matches. Several holes have been designed to provide different options for players from both the tee and the fairway, and an assortment of tees have been constructed on each hole to allow for diversity in the way in which the holes are set up each day. The final stretch of holes is tough, requiring precision in both strategy and execution. Players whose matches reach the 18th hole will be faced with a decision to either carry a pond in front of the green with their second shot or lay up and leave a tricky pitch from a downhill lie over water to a raised green. The 18th is undoubtedly a perfect finishing hole for the Ryder Cup’s match-play format.
Team U.S.A., captained by Corey Pavin, is looking to successfully defend their title, but this will be no easy task considering the depth and dexterity of their European counterparts. The U.S. roster contains a mix of veterans and youngsters, players who grip it and rip it as well as those who methodically plot their way around the golf course. The team is made up of Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton, Matt Kuchar, Stewart Cink, Ricky Fowler, Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods. The U.S. squad will likely play aggressively, taking advantage of their superiority in length; and given the number of holes with risk-rewards opportunities, long hitters such as Mickelson, Watson, Johnson, and Woods will be expected to tally up a multitude of birdies. Look for the long hitters to be the difference makers for the U.S. team, especially young guns Watson and Johnson, both of whom had break-out seasons on the PGA Tour.
Team Europe, captained by Colin Montgomerie, is very talented this year, and many believe it to be Europe’s strongest squad in several years. The roster, comprised of Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood, is favored to win the event by several points. The roster contains several new faces, but a core of veterans such as Harrington, Jimenez, Poulter, and Westwood will help newcomers relax and focus throughout the week. Kaymer and McDowell won the PGA Championship and U.S. Open respectively this season, and McIlroy and Westwood had great seasons as well. The European team is known for its consistency and camaraderie, both of which have proved to be advantages over the U.S. in the past. If the Europeans play smart golf, eliminate mistakes, and force the Americans to play aggressively, they will most likely prevail. The action begins on Friday. Two continents, two teams, one dream—to win the Ryder Cup.