GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Major championships last four days. Regular tournaments last four days. And yet, here we are on Thursday at the Ryder Cup, waiting one more day before the five sessions are crammed into a three-day period.
All of which leads to one pressing question: Why?
The company line from the PGA of America and European Tour is that it’s all about tradition. That’s valid rationale, but if the event never matured because of tradition, the United States would still be competing against Great Britain & Ireland. No Seve, no Ollie, no Sergio. Much of the drama of the past 35 years would have been removed from the proceedings.
Not that the Ryder Cup deserves to be compared with its little cousin the Presidents Cup, but there are a few things it could steal from the other international affair which could help the excitement factor. The first is having captains produce matches back and forth, like your fantasy football draft, rather than a blind draw. You want Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson on Sunday afternoon? In the current format, you can only cross your fingers and hope; if the captains matched up opponents, though, they could make it happen.
The other is going to a four-day format. It’s worked for the Presidents Cup and would work just as well for the Ryder Cup. Here are four reasons:
1. More time for weather delays: The last time the Ryder Cup was contested in Europe, lengthy suspensions of play led to a makeshift third session and a Monday finish. That doesn’t benefit the organizing bodies, the competitors or the fans. Stretching the event out for four days allows for some wiggle room in the case of weather.
2. Can’t hide any players: Since this is a dream scenario anyway, I’ll extend that dream to my ideal format: Thursday’s opening session will consist of six fourball matches; Friday’s session would have six foursomes matches; then Saturday and Sunday would remain as they’ve always been. The end result? Four more points available in team matches and an inability to hide any weak spots over the first two days. If you’re on the team, you can’t ride the pine.
3. Removes the boredom factor: On Thursday morning, Ian Poulter met with the assembled media. He was brilliant in speaking about what the Ryder Cup means to him, but he also looked as if he was ready to spring from his chair and sprint to the first tee. Nobody blames him, either. From the “thuggish jingoism” of Rickie Fowler’s haircut, as one European writer put it, to Phil Mickelson’s comment that caused Litigate-gate, we’re all prepared for the actual golf to get going.
4. Money, money, money, money: Let’s face it: This event is about pride and tradition and rivalry, sure, but it’s also all about the Benjamins. The Ryder Cup is a huge money-maker for all organizing bodies, so why wouldn’t they try to maximize the potential of a four-day event? That would mean 33 percent more television revenue and ticket sales. And you know the old saying – money talks.
Frankly, I’d be surprised if this move doesn’t happen someday. It makes too much sense not to – especially because of that fourth reason on the list.