By Steve Silverman
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If Tiger Woods is going to reclaim the title of No. 1 golfer in the world, he might as well start now.
The Ryder Cup is not usually a sporting event that resonates with most metropolitan area sports fans.
There are too many other things to be concerned about, such as the Giants and Jets. The Yankees are preparing for the postseason and the Rangers remain locked out by sharp-toothed schnauzer Gary Bettman.
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You don’t have to do any of the prep work. The Ryder Cup is here, and if you watch it this weekend you will get a lot more than you bargained for.
Ryder Cup golf is a lot closer to college football than it is to what you see most weekends on the PGA Tour.
When the best golfers from the United States square off against Europe’s best players, there is suddenly a rooting interest. This is not individual competition. This is team golf.
The U.S. team has taken it on the chin quite frequently, so they want to win badly at this version of the Ryder Cup, which will be held at the Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago.
When this competition is held on American soil, fans let loose with full-throated roars in support of U.S. players. Fans who have nothing against Rory McIlroy will hoot and holler if he lets loose with a substandard shot and may even roar their approval if he misses a putt.
This is a golf competition like no other.
And it may be Woods’ time to climb back to the top.
While Woods did not win a major this year, he really did have an excellent season by all standards other than his own. He won three tournaments. He is the No. 2 player in the world behind McIlroy. He was the leading point-getter in the FedEx Cup regular-season standings.
While that title is like winning the President’s Trophy in the NHL as the best team in the regular season, it demonstrates that Woods has played consistent golf all season.
As the competition is set to begin, Woods is all smiles.
He’s happy because he appears to have put his personal and health problems behind him. He has hit the ball well off the tee, is hitting greens in regulation and has putted well.
He has not done those things in the most important tournaments, and has stumbled in the third and fourth rounds of the majors.
That’s when Tiger used to thrive.
He can take a big step towards getting back to that level with an outstanding performance in the Ryder Cup.
While there are many other great and popular players on the American team — including Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk – it is up to Woods to become the leader.
Team captain Davis Love doesn’t have to say it; everybody knows it.
Woods acknowledged this week that he has not done well in recent Ryder Cups, and he takes responsibility for the U.S. losing far more than it has won.
He also made it clear that he takes it personally and looks forward to the match-play competition.
It’s golf in the most unusual of circumstances. The crowds can play a huge role in rallying the home team.
However, a poor start by the U.S. will only increase the pressure, and it may make it harder to play at home because expectations are so high.
I’m not advocating making the Ryder Cup the center of your weekend. However, when that college football game you were laying 15 1/2 points on has fallen out of reach, tune in to the Ryder Cup to see one of the most unique competitions in sports.
Will you be tuning in to watch the Ryder Cup this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below…