In the aftermath of the Ryder Cup, one image stood out above all others – Rory McIlroy, tears streaming down his face, attempting to articulate his emotions. This was not the same McIlroy who had once deemed the Ryder Cup as inconsequential; this was a man who had been utterly devastated by defeat. And it is this level of passion and desire that sets the Europeans apart when it comes to the Ryder Cup.
The Americans, of course, are fierce competitors who want nothing more than to win, but for the Europeans, the Ryder Cup runs deeper. It is a part of their culture, a sacred tradition that is ingrained in their history. It holds a special place in their hearts.
In the words of Justin Rose, the elder statesman of the European team, “We are united by a culture and a generation of players that have come before us… There’s a really strong culture on the European team.” This culture has been passed down from legends such as Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, who have shown the current generation how to compete and succeed in the Ryder Cup.
For Spaniard Jon Rahm, his golfing life has been shaped by watching and idolizing his fellow countrymen Ballesteros, Olazabal, and Sergio Garcia, all of whom were Ryder Cup heroes. Rahm’s dream was to follow in their footsteps, and now he is living that dream.
The Europeans understand and cherish the significance of the Ryder Cup. It is not just about individual performances or personal success; it is about representing something bigger than oneself. As Rose eloquently put it, being a European Ryder Cup player is about “forgetting about who you are outside of this week… What you have done or what you may do afterwards really, truly doesn’t matter.”
In contrast, the Americans have a different dynamic. While there is undoubtedly camaraderie and friendship within their team, they tend to form clusters and cliques rather than a united front. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay – these pairs are known for their close friendships, but it did not translate into success on the course during this Ryder Cup.
US captain Zach Johnson has received criticism for his decision to pair players based on their friendships rather than strategic compatibility. This approach ultimately proved to be one of the downfall for the American team. In contrast, the Europeans understand that a good pairing goes beyond personal relationships. It is about representing something bigger than oneself, and this is what drives them to success.
Europe possesses a not-so-secret advantage in the Ryder Cup – their unity, their culture, and their history. They approach the Ryder Cup with reverence and a burning desire to keep the cup in their possession. And it is this passion that continues to give them an edge over their American counterparts.