Defeat brings a new appreciation to American audience

Ken Jones on the thrilling competition that turned on a sceptical nation

As an American characteristic is to assume superiority in sport it might be imagined that the loss of the Ryder Cup to Europe in Rochester on Sunday came as a great blow to the natives.

On a train from Rochester to Albany yesterday I put this to a number of fellow travellers. Leaving aside one or two who conveyed immediately the impression that they think an interest in games to be evidence of arrested development, none appeared to be in a state of shock; most had caught glimpses of the Ryder Cup matches on television or seen references to it in their newspapers. "Guess our guys must be feeling pretty sore," said a railway employee, Fred Williams, presuming it to be a rotten first for his compatriots and that it is competed for annually.

However, there is unquestionably burgeoning interest in an event that was not thought important enough to merit more than small references on television and the sports pages just eight years ago.

NBC reported viewing figures up by 27 per cent from 1993 when they returned to golf coverage after pulling a vast traditional audience for the college American football match between Notre Dame and Texas. "When people saw some of the spectacular shots from earlier play they kept their sets on. I certainly did and I've never been on a golf course," a New Yorker said. "It was exciting stuff."

USA Today, which circulates nationally, carried a front page picture of Bernard Gallacher and Phillip Walton embracing and even the New York tabloids found room for the Ryder Cup in space that is normally consumed by baseball and football. "U.S. falls in Ryder shocker" announced the Daily News. "U.S. chokes in Ryder Cup" declared the Post.

Even the staid New York Times cross referred to the Ryder Cup on its front page and it was the main item in their sports section. "Stunning comeback sends Ryder Cup back across Atlantic" was the headline above a large picture of the European players celebrating around the 18th green when Walton's win over Jay Haas clinched the match.

It was considered generally to be a crushing defeat for the combative American captain, Lanny Wadkins, who came under criticism for his controversial wild-card pick of Curtis Strange and for ignoring the Open champion, John Daly, as well as Lee Janzen.

In his work for NBC, and proving himself a golf commentator of the highest class, Johnny Miller stressed that Europe's victory had finally established the Ryder Cup as a major event in American sport. "I think that for the first time it got through to people who are not particularly interested in golf," he said. "Instead of thinking it to be a dull game and elitist, they really got a kick out of it."

What fascinates most is the knowledge that sporting millionaires were prepared to suffer all that emotion without making a dollar in prize-money. "Tell you the truth, I find that scary," said another of my companions on the train to Albany.

Suggested Topics
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice