Alex Massie

Onwards and upwards to the Ryder Cup!

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OK, one more golf comment... No-one anticipated Europe's crushing victory at Oakland Hills in 2004 and precious few more thought that the 2006 edition of the Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland would also end ina European blow-out victory. Time after time hotly fancied American sides have been found wanting even if the rankings and, perhaps, common sense suggest they should have won. Why?

Well, Padraig Harrington's remarks today give credence to one powerful explantion for this success: european golfers care about the Ryder Cup much more than their American counterparts do. This isn't a universal rule of course, after all Kenny Perry, for one, made making the US team his primary goal for the year. Nonetheless, I suspect he is the exception that proves the rule. It was significant that Harrington turned to Ian Poulter, just before he was due to lift the Claret Jug, and said that this was a fine week for european golf that had ensured the pair of them would, barring disaster or injury, be playing in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in September. If you wanted to pinpoint team spirit, this is the sort of thing you would look for.

Of course Americans want to make the Ryder Cup team, but I'm not convinced any American winner this week would have talked about the Cup in his victory speech, let alone congratulated a rival for having made the team. Equally, I guess that if you polled the top 30 Americans and leading 30 european golfers at the start of the season and asked them what their goals for the year were, I'd bet rather more europeans than Americans would ltell you that making the Ryder Cup was in their top three ambitions for the season.

On which note, it's about time the American press stopped treating supposedly "no-name" european golfers (eg, Philip Price or David Howell or any one of a number of euros you might consider) as hicks lucky to be on the same course as the great talents stocking the US team. It's matchplay and anything, rather wonderfully, can happen. Or, to put it another way, the British press tends not to be so casually insulting of American golfers about whom little is known on the eastern side of the Atlantic...

All that being the case, I expect that the law of averages would suggest an American victory in Kentucky this September...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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