The Ryder Cup, a biennial golf rivalry between the U.S. and Europe, has roots dating back to 1927. The first tourney was a competition solely between the U.S. and Great Britain, with Ireland competing alongside Great Britain in 1973, 1975 and 1977. It was opened to golfers across Europe in 1979. And today, the trans-Atlantic match play captures the attention of fans around the world.
Interest in the Ryder Cup is strongest in the U.K. with 20% of the population being interested in the Ryder Cup, followed by the U.S. and Spain. In France, this year’s host country, 6% of the population is interested in the event.
Since the tournament was last held in Europe in 2014, the number of fans globally has grown by more than 6.7 million people, according to Nielsen SportsDNA. A track of fandom over time shows that interest peaks and falls depending on where the event is held. With both continents alternating as host of the tournament, fan numbers in Europe naturally decline following a U.S. event, and peak following a European event.
“With Tiger Woods returning to the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012, it will be interesting to see if the popularity of the event soars even further, given his impact on the PGA Tour this year and his recent PGA Tour Championship win,” said Jon Stainer, Managing Director, Nielsen Sports Americas.
According to the Gracenote Sports world ranking, the 2018 U.S. team has six of the top-10 golfers in the world, while the European team has three. (The other top-10 golfer, according to Gracenote Sports, is Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama.
In looking ahead to this year’s tournament, the European team has history on its side, as it hasn’t been beaten in Europe for 25 years since it lost to the U.S. at the Belfry in England in 1993. The Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France, will host the Ryder Cup tournament on Sept. 28-30.