There's nothing quite like the Ryder Cup. By far and away golf's premier team event, this year's edition, which takes place from September 28-30 at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, will see US skipper Davis Love III lead a side desperate to avenge their loss at the hands of Europe in Wales two years ago. He'll have his work cut out however, because in José María Olazábal Europe has one of the most passionate and successful players in history, one more than capable of rousing his troops and ensuring that the Cup travels back – first class, of course – with his team.
But the fact remains that six of the last seven Ryder Cups have been won by the host team and Medinah, which comes in at over 7,657 yards, is expected to favour the Americans. The course was also the site of two of Tiger Woods' PGA Championship wins, so it's clearly the type of challenge he enjoys. It would be something a shock if an in-form Woods, despite his fairly ordinary record in Ryder Cups, doesn't finish with a hatful of points. The United States are the slight favourites, according to British bookmakers at least, and that sounds about right.
Home advantage counts for a lot. In a sports-mad city like Chicago – the third largest city in America – the US team is going to enjoy tremendous – and likely tremendously vocal – support.
In their favour, the Europeans have a camaraderie that the Americans will find difficult to match. Their strength is greater than the sum of its parts, with players like Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia saving their best performances for the Ryder Cup. Taking part in a Ryder Cup, for most Europeans, is rated second only to winning a major. It means that much to them. The verdict: too close to call.