This weekend two of the years greatest sporting fixtures will go head-to-head as the Ryder Cup and Premier League do battle on Sunday.
USA and Europe will war for golf’s biggest and best team tournament at Celtic Manor in Wales while Arsenal travel across London to take on title rivals Chelsea in a match that is already shaping up as a defining moment in this years Premier League title race.
The Ryder Cup is the only real team event in the golf calendar and is watched by an audience of millions around the globe. The television rights for the event are extremely lucrative with television corporations across the world battling it out for the honour of showing the competition in their own particular regions.
As ever the Sky Corporation has won the rights for showing the Ryder Cup across the UK. The Rupert Murdoch owned broadcaster also owns the rights for showing the vast majority of live Premier League matches too.
So just when the Ryder Cup reaches its climax on Sunday with the singles competition between Team Europe and Team US many fans will have to debate; do I stay with the best Golf tournament of the year or do I switch over to Chelsea vs. Arsenal which has been rescheduled by Sky to take place on Sunday afternoon.
It would seem to be an incredible piece of scheduling by Sky, who will broadcast both events simultaneously in competition with each other. In effect Sky is splitting its audience when the corporation could have realistically shown the match on the less important date. Possibly Saturday or Sunday afternoon or even Monday nights slot could possibly attracted a larger audience.
It leaves Sky facing a low viewing figure for at least one of their major events of the year.
So, what makes the Ryder Cup so special?
Golf is an individual sport and the golfers are reliant on themselves and maybe their caddie for a few sage words of advice. Their psychology is built around having no one else to rely on, pitting their game against the elements and facing and overcoming your greatest enemy, your own mind.
The Ryder Cup takes this individual approach and for two days it’s thrown out the window. Even on the last day, you are not playing for yourself as your result will impact on the team.
The competition is split into three separate sections.
Foursomes are a competition between two teams of two golfers. The golfers on the same team only use one ball and take alternative shots. The hole is won by the team with the lowest score.
Four balls are where four golfers, two from each team, play their own ball. The golfer who comes in with the lowest score wins the hole for his team.
The last day sees the Singles, where each golfer plays off against an opponent from the other team.
America had dominated the Cup until recently. In 1927 the first Ryder Cup took place in Worchester County Club, Massachusetts, with Team America running out as victors. The great Walter Hagen became the first captain to hold the trophy aloft.
When the now famous tournament first originated it was competed between America and Great Britain. The competition was very one sided, with Team USA winning 16 and Britain only winning three.
So, in 1973 Ireland joined the UK to play against America. America’s domination of the Cup wasn’t even dented so, after losing the next three in a row, Great Britain and Ireland gave way to Team Europe.
Team USA continued their domination winning the next three competitions against Team Europe, and it wasn’t until 1983, in a fantastic competition where Team USA won on a dramatic last day by one point (14.5-13.5), that their domination was truly tested.
Since that fateful day in 1983, Europe has won eight Ryder Cups, including five in the last seven, to America’s four
For those of you who would not normally tune in for a golf tournament may I suggest you change your ways for the Ryder Cup, as a sporting competition it is truly one of the world’s great events.
The team dynamic really has a way of lifting and changing the event, raising the tension to otherwise untold levels, making even the greatest of players quake while other lesser known lights shine and rise to the occasion in spectacular fashion.
The USA will travel to Wales having won the cup two years ago and have every chance of retaining the trophy in what is looking like the hardest to call Ryder Cup in years.
While all that is going on Arsenal and Chelsea will have licked their wounds from last weekends Premiership defeats, against West Brom and Manchester City respectively.
The Premier League title race looks to be a two horse race between Chelsea (5/6) and Manchester United (9/4) with Arsenal (8/1) and Manchester City (8/1) as outside bets. However, a win for the Gunners would see their odds shorten dramatically.
As a match it is one of the most important games in the calendar and always has had a major say in determining the contenders for the title. In recent seasons the fixture has been dominated by Chelsea whose brand of football has literally blown the Gunners out of the water.
Should the match end in victory for one of the London based sides it would leave the losing side with two defeats from just seven games and facing an uphill battle to win the title.
But while the competition between the USA and Europe and Arsenal and Chelsea will never be in doubt, the competition between fans to watch the idols on Sunday could be equally fierce.
In an age of economic recession where many people have cancelled their subscription fees to sporting channels. It means the occasional Sunday afternoon trip to the local public house is most fans only access to live events.
On Sunday those fans will invariably be competing with each other to see their idols play.
Red or blue; Arsenal or Chelsea; USA or Europe; friend vs. friend; golf vs. football.