An atmosphere of madness on the Scottish Gleneagles course which hosted the fortieth edition of the Ryder Cup. Europe has again imposed itself. Walk behind the scenes of a unique event.
By Miguel Tasso
For the eighth time in ten editions, the European team has won the Ryder Cup. On the Scottish Gleneagles course, Captain Paul McGinley’s team has largely dominated his American rival, confirming the current golf supremacy of the Old Continent.
Individual sport in essence, golf is played as a team on the occasion of the Ryder Cup. And, obviously, the American champions have the worst difficulties to master this unusual concept! “It’s probably a question of state of mind. Europeans participate in this competition like real warriors. They hate and surpass themselves. It’s the competition of their life. The Americans are, no doubt, a little smoother and less aggressive. That’s the difference “sums up Nicolas Colsaerts who participated in the event in 2012 in Medinah, near Chicago.
At Gleneagles, in any case, Rory McIlroy and his comrades dictated their law from start to finish in front of excited Scottish fans. Golf, usually so respectful of the label, acquires another dimension in the Ryder Cup. The public is often noisy, chauvinistic, sometimes unruly. Like the Davis Cup, the tournament has its codes that go far beyond sport.
We were in the stands near the tee number for the first starts on Friday. The clock indicated 7:30, and the mercury of the thermometer was scarcely more than five degrees. But more than 40,000 spectators, most of whom arrived in the middle of the night, were already circling the fairways of the Centenary Course at Gleneagles. And on the stands, the atmosphere gave off a scent of FA Cup final at Wembley. The audience, good child, sang like in a football kop! And it was like that for three days …
In truth, everything is disorienting in the Ryder Cup. The tournament is played in match-play, with doubles and singles matches. In a sport where money is king, it does not distribute any prize money. Rivals throughout the year, players find themselves in the same team. But, for nothing in the world, they would miss this rendezvous with the glory and the legend.
And then, there is this excitement around the European team. Nowhere else – not even in the Berlaymont – is Europe so encouraged or even adulated. This is all the more surprising as Britain has never been especially close to the continent! But there, the time of a tournament like no other, the azure flag with twelve stars was raised to the rank of mother country and the hymn to the joy made rise all the people of Pertshire.
Yes, definitely, the Ryder Cup defies reason. How surprising, then, that it arouses so much passion on both sides of the Atlantic and so make the greatest champions vibrate. It is also surprising that the most prestigious brands sponsor this competition, which ranks third in terms of notoriety after the Olympic Games and the World Cup.
This is of course the case of Rolex, historical partner of most major tournaments and golfers.
In Gleneagles, the prestigious Swiss watchmaker had, since then, pinion on green and had set the time of the tee. It was an opportunity for him to look after his image and his relationships and to welcome, in his private rooms, the greatest stars of the global swing.
Rolex has, indeed, many ambassadors in the world of golf. Legends of yesterday, like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and today’s champions, like Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler or Nicolas Colsaerts.
For this Ryder Cup 2014, the brand even had for ambassadors the two captains: Paul McGinley, for Europe, and Tom Watson, for the United States. The values of the Ryder Cup are also, it is true, those of Rolex: excellence, respect, team spirit, honor, tradition. And passion!