Majestic Medinah plays host to this year’s Ryder Cup and the atmosphere is electric.
It is truly difficult to describe the feeling and energy at a Ryder Cup. It is as if the world’s biggest events collided into each other to create one huge all-world celebration. Imagine the 4th of July, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, FIFA’s World Cup and Halloween all meeting at a golf course. That’s what you have, here on the fairways at Medinah.
The stands are filled with passionate fans waving flags, chanting and cheering to such high pitches you can feel the Earth shake.
Throughout the year the players on both sides compete against each other in fierce every-man-for-himself competition. But this week they are joined together by birth place and divided by continent.
And this is where it begins to feel like a Super Bowl or a European soccer match. Two teams with fierce rivalry and passionate fans. The players from each respective team are all wearing the team uniform, and the display of patriotism from the fans is overwhelming, giving you the feeling you are attending the Olympics.
Normally golf is an individual sport, but this week it is transformed into a team event. Perhaps not so ironic and rather symbolic are the two major figures prominent this week participating in the event, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps. Regarded as two of the greatest athletes in the world, Phelps excelled in an individual sport while Jordan in a team sport. This week the players need to combine the best of both.
The most interesting part perhaps is the brewing “bromances” on the golf course. It is said Aristotle’s ancient classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of the bromance. It is new for golf. Just as the other pairs that came before them – Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Hallam – now Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley have a bond that is seductive. Just as two lovers who pass a knowing look, the same look can be seen on the faces of Phil and Keegan. Their look reveals a shared bond for love of country and fierce competitiveness. Like any great partnership, the look says I have your back.
We first saw the look when the pairings were announced, and then again on the course. Their signs of affection come in the way of fist pumps and fist bumps. Phil smacks Bradley on the butt and gives him a few nudges to get him out of his intense state after a shot. After Bradley holes out on 15 for the win, more chest bumps and fist pumps. Like the energy that lovers exude – a feeling so infectious you want to be in love – the same infectious energy can be felt from this pair. Watching them interact makes you want some of it.
Davis Love III, captain for Team USA, most eloquently sums up the essence of the Ryder Cup.
“I hope these Ryder Cup matches will encourage people around the world to try our great game, just as my father encouraged me to try it. And, in that vein, we should remember that these matches are not life and death. Golf has to be played with a certain spirit of graciousness or it’s not golf at all. Captain Olazábal, you have embodied true class in the game all your golfing life. You have improved our great game, in your Masters victories and all your other wins, and in your spirited Ryder Cup play. As we Americans square off against your distinguished squad of Europeans, let’s remember what we’re doing here. In far too many ways, we are a world in turmoil. There are millions who live in poverty, who know hunger, who wake up to war. Nobody should confuse these matches with any sort of battle – except an athletic one. We start these matches on a note of friendship and we will end them the same way. In this world, we need all the friends we can find. These matches are about people coming together in the name of honest, fair and intense competition. That’s why they are so loved.”
This week we are all acutely aware of just how fortunate we are no matter where you were born. The love and bromance we feel is a direct reflection of the players understanding that they are fortunate to play the game we all love while representing their country. The Ryder Cup is perhaps the finest example of feel-good golf. Why we love the game, competition, and country.
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