Some things are more traditional than others when it comes to the 41st match-up, but all are likely to have a place at Hazeltine in Minnesota this weekend
The first thing that happened at the inaugural Ryder Cup in 1927 was the team captains played each other. Back then there was no doubting the importance of the captain, leaders on and off the course. But since 1963, when Arnold Palmer became the last to also wield his clubs, the role has become partly tactical, partly motivational and largely about turning up to press conferences and flirting with sponsors. Perhaps it was because the captains started to feel a little unimportant that the role of vice-captain was invented, because only exceedingly important people have multiple assistants. Over the first couple of days each match will get its own vice-captain, leaving one left over whose job is, in the words of the official website, to dispense advice and provide assurance to the quartet of players omitted. He is, essentially, vicecaptain of getting the pints in. This is not an actual job.
Another relatively new innovation, since 2012 ambassadors have blossomed like so many azaleas at Augusta National. This years roster includes Peter Schmeichel, Kevin Pietersen and Niall Horan from One Direction. The Ryder Cup is the most famous event in golf; while the active involvement of 23-year-old pop stars may open it up to a new demographic albeit one whose interest is unlikely to be sustained once the likes of Sam Torrance become involved it is hard to see how it can possibly benefit from an association with 52-year-old Danish former goalkeepers. Seeing guys who fight against each other on a weekly basis being best friends for a week, its great to see, Horan says. I can understand from being in a band, the brotherhood, the friendship. Horans band are on an extended break amid rumours of fractured relationships, while Horan has declared his need to go away, become a mad old recluse, then come back again with a giant beard, perhaps explaining his willingness to spend time with Darren Clarke.