Has Ryder Cup Lost its Luster?

Europe’s Team Captain Luke Donald and team members lift the Ryder Cup after winning the trophy by defeating the U.S.A 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 points at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, Italy October 1 but raises questions about whether the sporting event has lost its luster.

BOSTON, Mass – Well, now that the 44th Ryder Cup Matches are over, let’s be honest: the event has lost its luster.

Over the weekend, America’s best players traveled to Rome to play the Europeans at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club and got spanked 16 1/2 to 11 1/2. It was a dominating performance by the European team but who cares? It wasn’t enjoyable. It even had me asking why I even bother.

European Ryder Cup Team celebrates after clinching the 44th Ryder Cup Matches in Rome, Italy Sunday October 1.

Perhaps we can point a finger at U.S. Captain Zach Johnson who gave Keegan Bradley the stiff shaft by instead using a Captain’s pick on Justin Thomas. Why? Bradley was brilliant most of the year while Thomas spent more Fridays in the airways than Sundays in fairways. Although unlikely, I had hoped JT would play with his pal, Jordan Spieth, only in foursomes though; that way, he’d only play half the shots. Unfortunately, Spieth was no better.

Maybe this sports spectacle has nothing to do with Thomas, Spieth, or golf. Maybe the nature of modern television stole the show.

Growing up in the 80s, I didn’t have 10,000 stations pushing out junk like ‘Gunsmoke’ nor did we stream ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (again!) on YouTubeTV. In 1999 at Brookline, the Ryder Cup Matches stood out because we only had Channels 4, 5, 7, a fuzzy 10, free Red Sox games, and the ‘Deer Hunter’ on TV-38.

U.S. Captain Zach Johnson and Europe Captain Luke Donald got different results from their teams this week

Yet, today, it’s different. There are more entertaining alternatives. Why bother to watch Colin Morikowa play the way I play when Bravo TV airs ‘The Housewives of Orange County’ and ESPN has competitive cornhole.

I have to admit the Sunday singles matches were exciting, no thanks to the TV commentary. Paul Azinger is clearly the wrong guy to analyze the Ryder Cup. Since he is a former captain and player for Team USA, Azinger failed to criticize his home team. Where’s Johnny Miller when you need him?

I think the Golf Channel also has a part to play in this too. I love that their programming includes all kinds of golf tournaments from around the globe. However, they also have those ridiculous “Live From The Ryder Cup” shows where three dudes pick apart a point that can be made in five minutes. I say make your point and wrap it up. After that Ryder Crap, we need ‘Golf’s Greatest Rounds‘, not golf’s greatest routs.

Tiger Woods during the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France. Golf and the Ryder Cup need him back.

One more takeaway. I can’t help but think that the loss of Ryder Cup luster comes from more than poor TV coverage, barrage of programming, or Zack Johnson’s and Luke Donald’s ghastly interviews. In my view, golf and the Ryder Cup lack its ‘Holy Grail‘ and only one man can return the lure, the luster, and the appeal.

Tiger Woods, please report to the first tee!

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