Friday, October 1, 2010

Ryder Cup : In Europe, not run by Europe

I happened to catch Colin Montgomerie's speech at the (tremendously earnest, but that's golf) opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup, and I was bit startled when he began his address to the dignitaries with the words "First Minister, Mr President". Of course, it turned out he was referring to the President of the European Commission - Carwyn Jones must have been gutted, as he surely can't expect that many chances to enjoy the top billing in a pairing with Barack Obama.

It's perhaps not so surprising that José Manuel Barroso made time to put in an appearance at Celtic Manor, given that the Ryder Cup must be just about the only major sporting event in which Europe puts forward a unified team. What makes it even more of a phenomenon - truly an exception that proves the rule - is the fact that British people, and I suppose I'm particularly talking about English people here, never seem to have any difficulty whatever supporting the European team in full-blooded partisan fashion. Probably the main reason they feel able to do so is that golf's version of "Europe" is such a peculiarly British (and Irish) flavoured entity. Only once has the European home venue for the tournament been on the continent, and on only two occasions have there been continental captains. It's like a consoling biennial manifestation of a hubristic old fantasy that was never, ever going to be a runner in the arena where it really counted - "Britain leading in Europe".

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