First played in 1927, the Ryder Cup pits the 12 best players in Europe versus the 12 best players in America. It’s played every two years, alternatively on European and American soil, and is a unique team event in an individual sport. In 2018 it was back on European soil at Le Golf National outside Paris.
For those unfamiliar with the Ryder Cup, here’s a quick summary of how it works. There are three days of golf: Friday and Saturday sees four matches of fourballs in the morning and four matches of foursomes in the afternoon while Sunday sees 12 singles matches. In the fourball, all four players play their own ball and the best score of the pair counts. In foursomes, the players alternate shots. It’s all matchplay meaning you win holes and when the number of holes you’ve won beats the number left you’ve won. A win is one point (matches can be halved) so with 28 available you need 15 to win the Cup.
America were the defending champions and despite not having won on European soil in 23 years, they were considered to be favourites. They started well winning the first three matches on Friday before Europe pulled one back. Europe then recorded their first ever whitewash in the foursomes to lead 5-3 after the first day.
We were all incredibly excited as our alarms went off before dawn and we were on the first train at 5.20am alongside thousands of committed fans. Tee off was not until 8.10 but it took around 75 minutes to get to the course and we wanted to secure a good spot. We headed for the first tee and eagerly waited for the sun to appear and the day to start. It was an incredible atmosphere with thousands of excited fans singing together.
After seeing all four groups head down the fairway we made our way to the par 4 seventh green, which was across the road from the par 3 eighth. This meant we could watch the puts on the 7th before shooting across to watch the 8th. We saw some fantastic golf and three winning European puts on the 8th green.
From here we headed to a grass bank by the par 4 18th with its view of the par 4 15th approach and green. We enjoyed our delicious baguettes while we watched both live golf, for those pairings that made it to the 15th, and the action on one of the many big screens. Garcia/Mcilroy, Casey/Hatton & Molinari/Fleetwood secured three points for Europe who now led 8-4 going into the afternoon.
Post lunch we headed first to the drivable par 4th sixth and then onto the par 5 14th where we stayed for the rest of the day. The sun was out, the crowds were huge and it was a wonderful few hours watching the drama unfold. The afternoon ended 2 apiece (Rose/Stenson & Molinari/Fleetwood victorious for the Europeans) so Europe enjoyed a commanding 10-6 lead going into the final day.
Dinner at Chez Pappa and a few delicious beers ended off a brilliant day and with the singles only starting at 12.05, we enjoyed more sleep than the previous nights’ two hours!
There seemed to be even more people on the course on the final day and after much discussion on the train in, we decided to beeline it to the par 3 second where we had views of the first fairway & green and the second. The steep grass banks surrounding the hole really made it feel like a cauldron (as was the case on many other holes too) and the atmosphere was one of the best I’ve ever experienced in sport.
We watched the first six single matches come through before following Ian ‘Mr Ryder Cup’ Poulter and Dustin Johnson until they’d finished the 6th. We hadn’t explored this part of the course and it was fun following a pairing for a few holes.
From here we watched Mcilroy and Thomas drive off on the 13th and Casey & Koepka play the 12th before perching ourselves on the par 3 16th green to watch the afternoon unfold. The US threatened a ‘Medina-esque’ miracle as they won 3.5 points from the first 5 matches before Europe began to dominate.
We watched a number of pairings play the 16th as Europe fought off the American fightback and edged closer to victory. Francesco Molinari could have won it right in front of us on the 16th green but Mickelson conceded after hitting his tee shot into the water and that was that … Europe had regained the Ryder Cup, with Molinari becoming the first European to score the maximum 5 points, and what an absolutely incredible weekend it had been to witness it.
* A huge thank you to Zoneboy, Maccers, VH, Dyl and Varun for sharing their pictures