The 2006 Ryder Cup tees off on September 22nd at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland. This biennial team contest is perhaps the most dramatic and widely anticipated event in all of golf. This year’s Ryder Cup should be equally exciting as the United States and Europe square off on European soil. The United States team will attempt to win back the Ryder Cup, which they have not won since 1999. This will be no easy task for the Americans, as they will face raucous galleries that will be rooting against them. Europe has defeated the United States in the last two Ryder Cups that took place in 2004 at Oakland Hills in Michigan and in 2002 at The Belfry in England.
The U.S. Ryder Cup Team will be managed by Captain Tom Lehman, who has competed in three Ryder Cups as a player. The twelve man U.S. Team includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Chad Campbell, David Toms, Chris DiMarco, Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich, Stewart Cink, and Scott Verplank. All U.S. Team members have previous Ryder Cup experience, except for Taylor, Henry, Johnson, and Wetterich. The U.S. Team, and Tiger Woods specifically, have been successful in singles matches, but have struggled in the two-man team format. Surprisingly, even the pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed miserably at last year’s Presidents Cup. However, the U.S. finally identified some good two-man teams at the Presidents Cup, which should help them in this year’s Ryder Cup. Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk played well together and made up a formidable team of intense and gritty players. The pairing of Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco was also a good fit that produced successful results. The veterans of the U.S. Team will have to step up big if they plan to win back the Ryder Cup on foreign soil. The four U.S. rookies will be put to the ultimate test, competing in their first Ryder Cup without the support of American fans.
The European Ryder Cup Team will be managed by Captain Ian Woosnam, who has vast Ryder Cup experience as both a player and as a vice captain. The European Team includes golfers Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, David Howell, Henrik Stenson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke, and Lee Westwood. The Europeans typically play well together as a team. While the U.S. generally has a better team on paper, the Europeans seem to rise to the occasion in the spirit of international competition. Team Europe, and specifically Padraig Harrington, will have a big advantage with the Irish fans cheering them on.
The 2006 Ryder Cup will be played on a golf course that was designed by Arnold Palmer. The golf course at the K Club in Ireland is a scenic and challenging layout. It is located inland and not along the coast, like many of Ireland’s other famous golf courses. The 2006 Ryder Cup will be televised from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST on Friday, September 22nd on the USA Network. On Saturday, September 23rd, the Ryder Cup will be broadcast on NBC from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. EST. Final day television coverage will also be on NBC, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 24th. As always, when the Ryder Cup takes place, the entire golf world will be watching.