As Padraig Harrington tells it, there are five majors: the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, the PGA Championship and, in even-numbered years, the Ryder Cup. This week he'll play in his fifth major. The reason he loves it so -- and the same goes for Sergio Garcia and captain Nick Faldo and various other Euros -- is that he loves the idea of trying to beat somebody with nothing at stake but pride.
If you're a fan of the Europeans, this may be one more reason to admire your squad. If you're not, you're probably rooting for the Americans even if they don't seem to have their hearts in it. If you're like me, you're rooting for close more than anything else. The closer the better. More tingly. More escape.
You know how, when you watch a major, you often develop a rooting interest for somebody somewhere along the line? This year at the Masters you might have chosen Brandt Snedeker. At the U.S. Open, Rocco Mediate. At the British Open, Greg Norman. At the PGA, maybe Harrington. The point is, you didn't know before the week began who you'd be pulling for. But you figured it out as the week wore on, and that's what made Sunday afternoon so delicious, right?
I'd suggest a similar approach this week. Sure, most of us have our rooting interest figured out: the U.S., Europe, a close match. But you can dig deeper. Maybe you're of Swedish descent and you're pulling hard for Robert Karlsson and Europe. Maybe you're from Texas and you're focused on your local representatives, Justin Leonard, Chad Campbell, Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan. Maybe Oliver Wilson of England will do something endearing on Friday morning, and you'll be rooting for him, but not for the Euros. Maybe you'll see that Jim Furyk is playing his heart out for no money, but you'll find something unlikable about some of the other Americans.
This competition pits four Texans, two Kentuckians, two Floridians, one Californian, one Ohioan, one Wisconsinite and one Georgian against five guys from England, two from Spain, two from Ireland, two from Sweden and one from Denmark. You see any natural enemies in there? I don't. So what's wrong with finding a few more made-up plotlines to keep your interest?