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Commentary: Ryder Cup worth watching for patriotism, talent

Courtesy of MCT

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The college and professional football season is under way; the Major League Baseball regular season is winding down with playoffs starting soon. Heck, even basketball season starts next month.

But there is one sport that is definitely worth checking out this weekend. Golf.

That’s right, the game in which even the most out-of-shape players can hit a little white ball into a cup. And the sport that some of my friends don’t actually consider a real sport.

What’s so exciting in the world of golf this weekend? The Ryder Cup.

This biennial exhibition is more than an exhibition not only to golf fans, but to the Professional Golfers Association superstars who participate in it as well.

The top players on the PGA Tour, as well as the European Tour, take time out of their busy schedules to play in the Ryder Cup, which, aside from the President’s Cup, is completely different than any other golf tournament.

There’s no money involved and no world golf ranking points awarded to the players who play the best. And unlike other tournaments in this individual sport, the Ryder Cup is a team event.

But there is something they do play for. National pride.

Twelve of the best players from the U.S. face off against twelve of the best players from Europe in a grueling three-day competition to decide golf dominance and who gets bragging rights for two years.
The venues alternate between different courses on both sides of the pond, and this year, it’s in the U.S.

Enormous crowds of tens of thousands of people will line the fairways of Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., chanting “USA” between every shot from both teams.

Leading the Americans in this year’s competition include a resurgent Tiger Woods, the unpredictable but insightful Phil Mickelson, and big-hitting Bubba Watson, who leads the PGA Tour this year in driving distance at 315.5 yards per drive (who wouldn’t want to see a guy named Bubba hit a golf ball over the length of TWO Horseshoes).

The European squad is led by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, currently the No. 1 ranked player in the world. British heavyweights Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, both former top world players will also represent Europe.

Nine of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are scheduled to play in the Ryder Cup, and the lowest-ranked player in the field, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, is still ranked 35.

The Europeans have dominated the event as of late, winning in 2010 in Wales, and six of the last eight cups overall dating back to 1995. But on American soil, it will be tough to retain the cup.

So between football games this weekend, you should check out ESPN, NBC, and the Golf Channel’s coverage of the Ryder Cup.

Think of it this way: there won’t be any replacement referees to mess things up. 

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