The Ryder Cup and That Other Tournament

It’s not fair to compare, but since the Ryder Matches follows the FedEx Cup Championship only 4 days later, one can’t help but examine the differences.

The Ryder Cup Matches begun in 1927 pitting American and British professionals combining match and metal play. After the WWII, the American teams dominated the biannual event until players from all European countries were allowed to participate beginning in 1979. Ever since, as of the 2010 Matches, the European team has won 8 times (and a tie – previous match winner keeps the cup) compared to 7 by Americans. In recent tournaments the European team has held the upper hand, winning 6 out of the last 8 Ryder Cups including 4 of the last 5. The venues alternate between the US and Europe.

Team Captains for the next competition, in two years, are chosen a short time after the current Ryder Cup Match has been completed. In nearly two years 8 participants will qualify (US method) with 4 additional spots filled with the Captain’s selection. The European Captain will have 9 qualifiers and will select 3 Captain’s choices.

The FedEx Cup is still an infant, beginning in 2007. The Championship begins with the playoffs, three four round tournaments beginning with 125 golfers who accumulated the largest number of FedEx points during the regular season. After each tournament the number of competitors remaining dwindles to100, then 70, then the 25 with the most points play to determine the FedEx Cup Champion and winner of $10,000,000. The points system to determine the 125 golfers to compete is complex and fan unfriendly. Just when you think you might have it figured out the PGA erases all points for the 25 who have made the Championship round/tournament and give them a new set of points. Are you confused yet? Any of the 25 can win the Championship unless one of the top 5 (with the new points) wins the current tournament. Now I’m confused. STOP! PLEASE STOP!

The Ryder Cup has 84 years of history and few changes have been made to improve the competition. The FedEx has only 4 years of history and has had to change it’s format 4 times (it needs to change at least one more time).

It’s the Americans against the Euro’s, continent vs continent, Captain outwitting Captain, player competing with player, and fans cheering and jeering opposing fans. There is a feeling that the gallery is apart and a member of the team connected by nationality, the Ryder Cup and the game of golf.

Anyone with the vaguest interest in the Ryder Cup has an opinion as to who the captain should have picked rather than who was picked. The captain is similar to the quarterback in football, if the team wins he is the hero and the goat if they loose.

The players in the Ryder cup are honored to represent their country and compete only for “The Cup”. The prize awarded to the winner of the FedEx Cup Championship is $10,000,000.00.

But the FedEx Cup Championship points system makes my head hurt. A winner of a major championship (there are 4) and the Players Championship (why the Players?) gets 600 points. The three World Golf Championship tournaments are worth 550 points. Winning an ordinary PGA event gains you 500 and one of the less prestigious competitions present 250 to the winner. The 3 playoff tournament winners get 2,500 and THE TOUR Championship, after resetting each players points based upon their finish in the playoffs, garner 2,500 points. Whew!

Head to head competition pitting the 12 best Americans against the best 12 Europeans is the format of the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup Matches involve various match playcompetitions between players selected from two teams of twelve. Currently, the matches consist of eight foursomes matches, eight four ball matches and 12 singles matches. The winner of each match scores a point for their team, with ½ a point each for any match that is tied after 18 holes. They slug it out in the three different competitive formats culminating in one on one match play which determines the Cup winner.

The FedEx Cup is individual competition. The top 125 players play 3, 4 round playoff tournaments. The second tournament is whittled down to the top 70, the third to the lowest 25. This group will play the fourth and final tournament called THE TOUR Championship. If one of the top 5 (out of the 25) wins this tournament he wins the FedEx Cup Championship and the $10,000,000.00. If any of the other 20 participants win THE TOUR Championship they may win the FedEx Cup Championship, if they have more points than anyone else. Huh?

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