Taking into account where players live and practice, "Florida v. Florida" may be a better description for the storied golf tournament than "U.S.A. v. Europe."
The record book will say that Europe defeated the United States in this year's Ryder Cup by a score of 14 and a half to 13 and a half. Much of the commentary on the remarkable comeback of the European team has focused—naturally enough—on the Americans' unsteady play on the final day and some arguably questionable player selections by captain Davis Love III. But that all ignores a more interesting question: Who really won the cup? The contest, long envisioned as a clash between two Western cultural blocks, has become something messier, and the "Europe" team that clinched the title is a far cry from being representative of Europe as it actually exists.
Europe's victory, however unlikely it may have seemed on Sunday morning when the USA went into the final day of play leading 10-6, was in line with the history of the cup since 1979, when the squad facing the Americans was expanded to include players from the European continent as well as the previous British and Irish contingent. The aim at the time was to restore some competitive juice to an event that had lost its luster as American victories had become routine. Mission accomplished—perhaps to excess, from the American point of view. Since the Europeans have been added to the mix, it has been the Americans who have more often than not come up short, and increasingly so in recent years. Entering this year's match, Europe had won six of the last eight renewals of the biennial competition.