Ryder Cup

The 8 things people get wrong about the Ryder Cup

Perhaps more than any golf tournament, the Ryder Cup boasts a large set of clichés and platitudes. That doesn't mean each is accurate. Here are the eight presumptions about the Ryder Cup that don't necessarily hold up to fact-checking.

1

The U.S. Misses Tiger Woods

Ideally, a team would like the playing services of a 14-time major winner. But for all his individual triumphs, Woods has never found the same success in the Ryder Cup. He owns a 13-17-3 record, and the U.S. has won just one Cup in his seven appearances.
Getty Images
Ideally, a team would like the playing services of a 14-time major winner. But for all his individual triumphs, Woods has never found the same success in the Ryder Cup. He owns a 13-17-3 record, and the U.S. has won just one Cup in his seven appearances.
2

The Europeans Want It More

It's a popular storyline, also one that's dismissed by the Europeans. "It's very, very easy once, if you lose a match, to blame it on not being hungry or having a bad captain or the players being not team oriented," said Mark James, a member of eight European Ryder Cup squads. "You're looking for excuses, I think."
Getty Images
It's a popular storyline, also one that's dismissed by the Europeans. "It's very, very easy once, if you lose a match, to blame it on not being hungry or having a bad captain or the players being not team oriented," said Mark James, a member of eight European Ryder Cup squads. "You're looking for excuses, I think."
3

The Americans Frequently Underachieve

Due to hubris, PGA Tour partisanship or over-reliance on the world rankings, fans and media often view the Americans as Ryder Cup favorites. Yet the European Tour is not a second-tiered circuit, but rather boasts the depth and frontline firepower to rival what Americans see on the PGA Tour. Moreover, it's not like the U.S. has dominated the game's landscape as of late: Americans have won just 15 of the last 36 majors.
Getty Images
Due to hubris, PGA Tour partisanship or over-reliance on the world rankings, fans and media often view the Americans as Ryder Cup favorites. Yet the European Tour is not a second-tiered circuit, but rather boasts the depth and frontline firepower to rival what Americans see on the PGA Tour. Moreover, it's not like the U.S. has dominated the game's landscape as of late: Americans have won just 15 of the last 36 majors.
4

The U.S. Lacks Camaraderie

Getty Images
Yes, the Europeans tend to display the tightness of college fraternity brothers, but that doesn't mean the Americans are lacking in sociability. If anything, guys on tour are closer than they've ever been before.
5

The Captain Can Win It

Getty Images
As Tom Watson proved in 2014, one can certainly create an environment that's not conducive to victory. But, as you'll hear in many professional sports, it's the players that go out and win the game. The 2012 Ryder Cup is evidence to this claim: the Sunday meltdown at Medinah had nothing to do with strategy from José María Olazábal or Davis Love III. The European players simply outperformed the Americans in the final format.
6

The Europeans Are Scrappy Underdogs

Getty Images
This is a narrative the Europeans themselves like to peddle. It's also one that's lacked merit since the early '90s. There are just as many Euros ranked among the top 12 in the world as Americans; moreover, it's hard to call yourself an underdog when you've won the Cup eight of the past 10 matches.
7

There's No Such Thing As Home-Field Advantage

Getty Images
The thought is, golf is such a global game in 2016, the course characteristics in Europe compared to the U.S. (and vice versa) aren't foreign to either team. Moreover, sports fans often overestimate their influence on a game's proceedings. While the first is true, the second doesn't quite hold up, which helps explain how the Europeans (with their rabid fans) have won five consecutive matches on their home turf, while the only two American wins in the past 20 years have come in the States.
8

The Ryder Cup Is Contentious

Getty Images
Yes, the every two year schedule of the matches heightens the stakes -- with the U.S. "task force" putting extra onus on this year's outcome -- and the event has produced its controversial moments. But, according to Jack Nicklaus, we are missing the point of the event. "To me, the competition is incidental," Nicklaus recently told USA Today. "Who wins bragging rights -- and I know everyone wants to win -- but that's not the important thing. The important thing is the game of golf and people having good relations and goodwill."