The Ryder Cup has transformed from an afterthought on the golf calendar -- one that fans, media and even some players viewed apathetically -- to a year-round preparatory and promotional event. This is especially true for 2016, thanks to the amplified focus from the American side. In a sense, it's almost too much hype: for an event comprising 24 players in 28 matches over three days, this thing has garnered a two-year build up usually saved for presidential elections.
Conversely, there's a reason coverage exists: people are delirious for the action to begin at Hazeltine. But excited for what, actually? To see if the United States can stop the bleeding, or if the European curb-stomping continues? That's too broad and straightforward. What makes the Ryder Cup provocative is the spirit, the visceral passion, the fundamental drama. That will result in one team winning, sure, but it's the quest, not the grail, that makes the journey worth watching.
Keeping this sentiment in mind, here are the 10 things we really want to see at the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Royal Troon Rematch
Sequels rarely live up to the original, and -- though he says he wants to play in all five matches -- Henrik Stenson's knee injury could throw a wrench into the saga. Still, the British Open battle between Stenson and Phil Mickelson was the highlight of the summer; if a theoretical Sunday showdown produces a third of the Troon drama, the matchup warrants an encore performance.
Bill Murray reenacts the American underdogs speech from "Stripes"
It's common for dignitaries to give inspirational speeches to the Ryder Cup teams. What better figure to spur the Americans to victory than Murray, a comedic voice with a flair for the sensational?
Are we sure the Americans don't have one more assistant captain spot for Carl Spackler?
Rory McIlroy continues his hot streak
Remember him? After a relatively quiet two-year stretch, McIlroy has remerged with vigor, boasting two wins in the last three weeks. As proved in Atlanta, if McIlroy's putting is merely adequate, he's almost unbeatable. That type of dominant presence is rarely seen in the sport; when it manifests, appreciate the flame for however long it burns.
Patrick Reed arrives on the first tee to "Real American"
Hey, it could happen: the UL International Crown offered a fun wrinkle at this year's event, with the teams arriving to the first tee via entrance music. The opening hole already has a stadium-like ambience; why not play to the rowdy environment?
Ryan Moore plays well
Following a strong opening to the Tour Championship, Moore was asked about his Ryder Cup odds. Despite a sound display in the second half of the year, the 33-year-old bluntly -- some would say despondently -- replied he didn't consider himself in the running. Yet, thanks to an inspiring finish at East Lake, Moore finds himself in Minneapolis garbed in red, white and blue. Captain's picks are usually under the spotlight, trying to prove they merited selection. As the first player invited via the Billy Horschel rule, Moore has more pressure than most to contribute. I don't usually pull for individual guys, but here's hoping Moore validates the club's decision.
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson figure out the high five
The duo's goofy handshake at the Presidents Cup singlehandedly reverted golf's "cool" factor by 25 years. Forget camaraderie and strategy; how to execute a high five should have been at the forefront of the American task force checklist.
Matthew Fitzpatrick becomes a breakout star
After leading the European Tour in top-10s as a rookie in 2015, Fitzpatrick had a bit of a sophomore slump this campaign. He did win the Nordea Masters and produced a backdoor top-10 at Augusta National in April, but his season was riddled with inconsistency stemming from accuracy and putting woes. Of course, Fitzpatrick is only 22, an age where such behavior is expected. The game is inundated with young talent, yet few have the upside of the Englishman. If he delivers a resonating showing, the Americans could be in trouble.
NBC promotes Brandel Chamblee and David Duval to the main booth
A friend asked this morning who I thought won the debate. Easy: society. I love Dan Hicks, Johnny Miller and the rest of the NBC gang. But the Chamblee-Duval tiff was one of the most riveting television moments of my life, and I want more.
Matt Kuchar gets lost at Mall of America, forcing Davis Love III to sub in Tiger Woods on Sunday
Not out of the question; the man didn't know the Olympic format a week before the event and had a Herculean task figuring out Skype. Better yet, Tiger is pitted against Sergio Garcia. Think that would draw some eyeballs?
The United States wins the Ryder Cup
I say this not out of nationalism; I simply want the Ryder Cup to be competitive. That, and I'm OK never writing about a "task force" ever again.