Team Europe wants the Ryder Cup more

Team Captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson, Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Team Captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson, Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

Each Ryder Cup year I, like you, look at the depth and quality of the US side and think, “How can they lose?”

This year, I’m not falling into that trap.

Here’s an unpopular opinion that every Team America fan will protest (and I’m Mr. Team America).

The Europeans care more about winning the Ryder Cup.

Now, I didn’t say the American players and coaches don’t care. They do. Ryder Cup performance can be the highlight of some players’ careers. I know they love winning the Ryder Cup just as much as the Europeans.

But Team Europe hates losing more than the Americans hate it. I know none of the players would ever say it. And yes, Americans hate losing at anything and everything.

But golf is different for the European team.

Golf is their game. They invented it and dominated it until about the time young Bobby Jones appeared. Since then it’s been Hagen, Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, Mickelson, Woods, and the current stars today; a 100-year American Tidal wave.

Believe me, American dominance in golf doesn’t sit well with those who created the game.

That pride has now washed across the European continent with the Ryder Cup. The fact that it’s being contested in Rome, not the UK, is ample evidence of the stakes Europe sees. It’s no longer the Brits and a few stragglers from across the channel.

Rahm (Spain), McIlroy (NIR), Fitzpatrick (England), and Hovland (Norway) are global, not just European, stars. Recent Team Europe members have hailed from Germany, Denmark, Italy, France, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, and Ireland.

And while many European stars live in the US and love it here, name me a continent that hates America more than Europe – other than Asia, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and Africa.

I’m kidding, of course…kind of.

Having watched the Ryder Cup over the last 40 years, I’ve noticed something unique to Team Europe. They seem to view the Ryder Cup through the lens of their culture. It’s deeply rooted in history, pride, passion, even chivalry.

Team America seems to view the Ryder Cup as something to snatch from their little brother.

Defeat for Team USA is an embarrassment. Defeat for the Europeans is existential dread.

Ryder Cup, Team Europe, Team USA
Team Europe after the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

It’s the difference between playing for your pride and playing for your life.

I say all this knowing I will hang on every shot and cheer Team USA to the end. I want them to win. I believe they want to win, badly.

I just sense that Team Europe goes into the Ryder Cup having burned their boats to the waterline. There is no turning back, they must go forward.

Spartan mothers used to say to their sons going off to battle, “Come back with your shield – or on it.” The meaning was unambiguous – return victorious or don’t return at all.

I’m guessing there are many more players in the Team Europe locker room carrying that sentiment than there are in the Team USA room.

Next. See the stats from the just completed season.. dark

None of this makes the American players selfish or bad people – a phrase I can use only because Phil Mickelson isn’t on the team. In fact, it probably means they have a healthier perspective on the whole competition.

I just think Team Europe lives and dies with the Ryder Cup. And if I had to bet, I think they’ll keep it in Europe for the next 2 years.