It’s here, it’s eventually here. Friday marks the return of the 2017 Ryder Cup and the ultimate event in the game of golf.
The 41st Ryder Cup will return to American soil for its first time in four years, taking place at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.
The last time a Ryder Cup was held on American soil it was Davis Love III at the helm of another strong American team, however it was Europe who came from behind in 2012 to beat a battered American team and complete what would come to be known as the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.
Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota will no doubt provide the stage for one of the greatest sporting events in modern day sport. There will be hostility and big crowds to see if America can win back the Ryder Cup or indeed to witness the European team make it four-in-a-row.
Nobody could have predicted that Europe would have completely walked over a strong Team USA at Gleneagles two years ago – defeating the USA by 16.5 points to 11.5, for their third consecutive win.
Qualifying for both teams has been difficult, more so for the Americans who have invested time in a new U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force to allow them to return to a previous winning formula that worked in 2008 for Paul Azinger’s team.
The Americans are undoubtedly the firm favourites with key players such as Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker all on strong form throughout the 2015/2016 season. With the likes of Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore, Rickie Fowler and JB Holmes who have found some nice form in the recent FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Team USA will come into the Cup very prepared and more determined than ever. A strong team with a Captain looking for revenge and a whole host of loud Minnesota fans rooting for them – they will be a hard team to beat.
The reigning champions will have their work cut out and Darren Clarke knows this. Having already admitted that he had many sleepless nights on the eve of finalising team for Hazeltine, he knows that the Americans will not go down without a fight.
Much criticism has surrounded the fact that Clarke has decided to take 6 rookies on an away game, but at the end of the day the European Tour has created a ‘family’ style feel with all of the players and caddies, when they step foot on that first tee, that is all that will matter.
Players such as Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose will provide some much-needed experience and ignite a lot of passion.
Stenson is coming off one of his best years on tour after lifting the Claret Jug at Royal Troon, with Rose revelling in delight after winning gold at the Rio Olympics and McIlroy battelling hard to win the season’s most prestigious prize in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. All of these guys will prove vital in Europe’s challenge to retain the Ryder Cup.
All the build up is done and the planning is over, come Friday morning it will be down to those 24 players to battle amongst themselves and see who comes out on top to lift the Ryder Cup.