South America should join the Ryder Cup fray


When I hear a commentator say that a player from the United States is from “America” I cringe, because it either shows a latent laziness in thinking, an ignorance to geography, or an arrogance in that the U.S., being the most powerful country in the world, is really all that counts when referring to “America.”

The Americas, of course, is North, Central, and South America and collectively it has a population that is estimated at roughly 910,000,000 people. As varied in ethnicity, cultural diversity, religions and history as any continent on earth, including, Europe.

Europe has a population of roughly 860,000,000 people, conveniently close to that of the Americas. In a certain biannual competition the United States with a population of 308,000,000 goes up against the whole of Europe which outnumbers the U.S. almost 3-to-1.
Now is this a fair fight? From a numerical standpoint, of course not, but let’s take a look at the results to further underscore the obscenity of this lopsided event. In the last 13 times Europe has squared off in this event against the U.S. in the Ryder Cup it has won nine times and six of the last eight. Some of those were by laughably wide margins. It wasn’t that long ago that the red, white and blue enjoyed the same advantages and success in this longstanding competition.

In 1977, Tom Weiskopf famously passed on an opportunity to play for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup because he had a big game hunting trip planned, and was widely criticized even though he shouldn’t have been. It was a lot harder to kill lions and tigers and bears than it was to beat the opposing side of Great Britain and Ireland, as it was back them.

The first year of the Ryder Cup was 1927 and through 1975, a year in which Weiskopf went 4-0 in the Ryder Cup, GB&I had won just three of the 21 competitions. It was not a competition, it was an exhibition and Weiskopf would rather hunt than do what he saw was essentially a waste of time. He had a point.

In 1967, after GB&I captain Dai Rees went through the lengthy list of accomplishments of each one of his players for that year’s Ryder Cup, Ben Hogan, the captain for the U.S. simply stood up, made a wide arc with his arm that encompassed his 12 players and said, “ladies and gentlemen, the 12 best players in the world.” And that team didn’t even include Jack Nicklaus. Hogan was right and his team won 23 ½ to 8 ½, the widest margin of victory in the history of the cup.

The U.S. won 12 ½ to 7 ½ in 1977 without Weiskopf, but what he did by merely going hunting did more to help this competition than anything else in its history. It brought attention to the wart on the nose that no one wanted to talk about. So, in 1979, all of continental Europe was included and then, slowly, this biannual gathering began to turn into a jingoistic, not-to-be-missed brawl. Lately, though, it is the United States that needs help, unless Luke Donald decided to plan a trip to look at art in Paris next fall. It is to that end that I suggest, without my tongue hitting any part of my cheek, that we elicit the help of our neighbors, to the north and to the south, to include all of the Americas, on “our” side to make this a more even competition, numerically speaking, to say nothing of the spirit of the contest.

There are no more ardent sports fans than the Canadians, and of course, the national pride of the various countries of Central and South America are legendary when it comes to fallowing their soccer teams. The recent successes of Camilo Villeagas in Columbia, Jhonattan Vegas in Venezuela and Angel Cabrera in Argentina would be a big draw.

With the Olympics going to Brazil in 2016 and the inclusion of golf in those Olympics, golf has potential to grow as never before. Just imagine what including all of the Americas in the Ryder Cup would do for the event and for the game. At the very least, we would hear a better variety of songs from the gallery. If I hear the same incessant chant of “USA, USA, USA” again I’m going to pull my hair out, and then, Charlie Rymer, and so many others wouldn’t have near as much to tease me about.  

The Ryder Cup needs to be changed to the Americas vs. Europe. Then, for that week, let all the commentators say with absolute accuracy that so-and-so is from “America.”