Europe Wins the Ryder Cup on Home Soil: What Does That Tell Us?


Camron Flanders

2012 Ryder Cup flag at Medinah Country Club.

The Ryder Cup is the biggest international men’s golf event between Team U.S.A. and Team Europe, and this biennial event alternates between venues in the U.S. and Europe. In 2021, the Ryder Cup took place at Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin, and due to its close proximity, many Latin students were able to attend.

The 2023 Ryder Cup was at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome from September 29 to October 1. As the Ryder Cup continues to get bigger, more Latin students have continued to support Team U.S.A.

The event captured the interest of the student body, so much so that Upper School math teacher Zach McArthur put the Ryder Cup on the smartboard and talked with students about it.

“[Mr. McArthur] gave us golf problems on the weekly sheet,” freshman Alessandro Pagani said.

The Ryder Cup is split into three days, consisting of 28 matches, with each match being set on matchplay. If a player beats the other player or team in strokes on a hole, the player wins the hole and the opposing side loses the hole.

If a player cannot return to tie the match, the match ends with the victor getting a point, and the loser zero. If a match is tied, the players split a point. To win the Ryder Cup, a team needs 14½ points.

Each team has one captain who selects 12 players for their team. For Team U.S.A, the first six slots are immediately filled by the top American players on the Official World Golf Rankings. Meanwhile, in Europe, the top three European players each from the World Points List and the European Points List qualify for the Ryder Cup. The captains for each team then select six players of their choice from their own nationalities.

Throughout the event, there are three types of matches. Foursomes, when two players from each team play one ball and alternate shots. Four-ball, when four players, two from each team, play their ball and take the lowest score out of the two players on a particular team for each hole. These matches only allow eight players from each team in the Ryder Cup, selected by their captains.

The final kind of game occurs on the last day of the Cup and is the singles match, where every player on each team plays against a player on the opposing team. Typically, the Ryder Cup comes down to the final singles matches, meaning the strength of the overall team matters more than the quality of the top players on the team.

Mr. McArthur said, “Because the U.S. is such a world power right now, European fans love beating such a mighty country at anything. Europe is much more passionate about the Ryder Cup than the U.S., so they play harder during it. There is this kind of European feeling of trying to regain or reassert their place in the world. Plus, golf is a more historical sport in Europe, especially in the U.K..”

And because of this golf discrepancy, Americans have not won a Ryder Cup on European soil in 30 years. Meanwhile, Europe won in 2012 in Chicago at the Medinah Country Club, even further showing how far they are willing to go to win the Cup.

That specific Ryder Cup is now known as the “Miracle of Medinah” in Europe and the “Meltdown of Medinah” in the U.S. Despite 1993 being the last Ryder Cup Team U.S.A. won on European soil, the U.S. has won 27 out of 44 Ryder Cups, an astonishing 61% of the Ryder Cups. However, Team U.S.A. won 20 out of 21 Ryder Cups before the 1983 Ryder Cup and has won only six since then.

Junior Will Behan said, “I like [how] the U.S. had more success before 1983 and fewer wins recently while still being more successful overall. That just shows you how dominant the U.S. was.”

So, when the 2023 Ryder Cup approached, people expected a similar result. And they were right. The Europeans won 16½-11½. However, they came out after the first day, winning 6½-1½, historically sweeping Team U.S.A. in the first set of matches.

On the second day, Patrick Cantlay, a U.S. player, didn’t wear his Team U.S.A. hat in protest against contracts that U.S.A. players received. The European fans responded by throwing hats at Cantlay, making this Ryder Cup especially entertaining and fun.

Freshman Jordan Abell said, “[The Ryder Cup] is a break from the regular uptight and strict golf tournaments. In the Ryder Cup, fans get as loud and energetic as possible.”

Another Team U.S.A. player, Xander Schuaffle, almost lost his right to play in the Ryder Cup due to contract arguments. Mr. McArthur said, “The Ryder Cup is bigger than money.”

However, it seems that while the Europeans understand that, the U.S. doesn’t. Mr. McArthur continued, saying “They already have so much money. Isn’t it more fun to play for something more meaningful?”

At the end of the second day, the caddie for Patrick Cantlay, Joe LaCava, got too close to Rory McIlroy, a European player, when he was putting to tie the match. Since he missed the putt, McIlroy got frustrated and was seen shouting at the caddie at the clubhouse after the match. He said, “It was the angriest I have ever been” at a Ryder Cup, according to the New York Post. He then used this as fuel to win his match the next day and leave the Ryder Cup with a 4-1 record, leading the Europeans to victory in Rome. On the other hand, the highest-scoring U.S.A. player, Max Homa, who just so happens to be a rookie, came out with a record of 3-1-1, scoring three and a half points.

According to the Official World Rankings, key U.S.A. players like Scottie Scheffler, number one in the world, and Xander Schuaffle, number six, were limited to one whole point each. Mr. McArthur said, “They are two of the best American players, so it surprised me. Neither of them played their best and didn’t live up to expectations.”

The Ryder Cup will head in 2025 to Bethpage Black, one of the most challenging golf courses in the nation, just outside of New York City.

“It will be sweet,” sophomore golfer Jack Zeiger said.

But the question remains: Will Team U.S.A. be able to take Team Europe’s trend of winning all the time at home and win in New York?