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SI convened a panel of experts—senior writers Michael Bamberger, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle as well as special contributor John Garrity and a PGA Tour player who participated on the condition of anonymity—to tackle all things Ryder Cup
THE BUZZ—OR BUZZKILL?
VAN SICKLE: What makes this Ryder Cup so important and crucial? Or is it?
SHIPNUCK: This is a chance for Rory McIlroy to continue taking possession of an entire sport. If McIlroy plays great and leads Europe to victory on U.S. soil, it's one more exclamation point to his year. If Rory takes down Tiger Woods in singles—the one match everybody wants to see—it would be epic. This could be Rory's show.
GARRITY: Other than anticipating Rory's play, I don't see this as one of the more significant Ryder Cups. There's no trend to get alarmed about. Home teams have won the last three. The European domination, when they were winning big, is over. The teams are balanced. Neither side is the tormented underdog. There's simply not as much at stake.
BAMBERGER: This almost seems like a pre-1991 Ryder Cup. The level of animosity isn't there anymore, in part because Europe's top players, guys like Rory and Graeme McDowell, are so well-liked. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, too.
VAN SICKLE: I hate to say I miss the Ryder Cup hype, but what happened to it? The buildup used to begin at the start of the year. We're only just starting to think about it now.
ANONYMOUS PRO: The Tour hypes the FedEx Cup all year, so the Ryder Cup gets lost. And it has been diluted by the Presidents Cup, another PGA Tour show. With a team event every year, the Ryder Cup feels less special. Maybe one of the reasons the European team bonds better is that they have two years to look forward to it. Our guys play something every fall. I don't know if they still get as excited.
VAN SICKLE: The Euros are united in their desire to knock off the big, bad U.S.A., while we're united only in our fear of losing big—again.
SHIPNUCK: You can lay some of this on Tiger and Phil Mickelson. They don't live and breathe the Ryder Cup like Payne Stewart and Paul Azinger and Tom Lehman did. Their attitude has filtered down. Even Rory called the Ryder Cup an exhibition before he played in it. Now he has changed his tune. Tiger and Phil have been on every team for almost 15 years and, sorry, they're just not that into you. Get over it.