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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'