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Is It Time For The Solheim Cup And Ryder Cup To Ditch The Draw?

Last weekend saw huge drama in the Solheim Cup, as Team Europe came back from a 4-0 deficit after the opening fourballs to tie the tournament 14-14, in doing so allowing them to keep the trophy that they won in the United States two years ago.

This weekend, the team golf action continues with the Ryder Cup, as Team Europe and Team USA once again lock horns, this time with the men doing battle across three days of action.

No doubt it has been one of the busiest weeks of the year for golf betting at bet365 Sport, given how illustrious, popular and important these two events are in the golfing calendar.

However, despite the excitement of the finish at the Finca Cortesin golf course in Andalucia, Spain last Sunday, there are many who feel disappointed that the result of the Solheim Cup was not decided one way or the other.

Most complainants have come from across the Atlantic where American sport is not enamoured with a tied outcome. This has led to a number of media outlets, and even prominent people within golf, stating that it is time for the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup to get rid of the possibility of a tied tournament.

So is it time for the Solheim and Ryder Cup tournaments to follow the example of the President’s Cup and do away with ties?

Let’s look at the benefits of each argument for and against draws in the Solheim and Ryder Cups.

Keeping Ties In The Solheim & Ryder Cups

Key Benefits

  • The possibility of a tied match has long been a part of both competitions’ history. There have been two tied Ryder Cup matches in recent history and now one Solheim Cup.
  • Retaining the cup in the event of a tie is akin to what happens in other sports (such as boxing) and offers the holders a slight advantage in the contest. Many argue that this slight advantage is deserved after winning the previous event.
  • Allowing ties will not put one or more team members under massive additional pressure in order to decide the outcome of the tournament.
  • Scheduling is easier for TV companies, advertisers and such like as most of these competitions will finish mid to late afternoon on the Sunday.
  • Players, organisers, volunteers etc all know that by mid-late afternoon on Sunday they will be finished and able to plan for the following week more easily.

Removing Ties From The Solheim & Ryder Cups

Key Benefits

  • No team can ‘win’ by drawing the tournament, the actual winner will have earned more points than their opponents.
  • Having a guaranteed winner will add a greater sense of jeopardy and drama to the tournament.
  • It will stop situations such as on Sunday in the Solheim Cup where after Europe had achieved 14 points, Lexi Thompson and Emily Pedersen’s final game didn’t matter, with the two players having two holes to play and Thompson two up.
  • Having a winner guaranteed will make the tournament more appealing.
  • The addition of a tie-break will make the finale even more dramatic, depending on how it is set up.

As you can see, there are positive arguments on both sides of the discussion as to whether tied matches should be allowed in either competition.

However, there is a precedent for this change and that has come in The President’s Cup.

What Happens In The Event of a Tie in the President’s Cup?

Although we have had one tie in the President’s Cup, it is only by the skills of two genius golfers that this is the case as the tournament had been designed to be played to a win for either team.

In the early years of the President’s Cup, if the teams were tied after the final day’s singles matches, then a tie-break would come into play. It happened once, in 2003 in South Africa.

At the start of the tournament, each captain, Jack Nicklaus for the USA, Gary Player for the Rest of the World, put the name of one of their players in an envelope. This was the player they have selected to represent their team in the event of a tie break.

When the match finished level, the envelopes were opened and unsurprisingly, World Number 1 Tiger Woods would represent the United States, while World Number 2 Ernie Els would be the Rest of the World golfer.

The three players battled back and forth over three holes, but could not be split. Eventually, due to diminishing light, the competition was deemed a draw.

Unlike the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, a draw meant that no team won the trophy outright and so they were both declared co-winners.

That situation now remains to this day in the President’s Cup.

Some pundits feel this is fairer than the holders keeping the trophy. Others feel the lack of any winner, even by virtue of being holders of the trophy, is a worse option.

What Are The Possible Tie-Break Options for the Solheim & Ryder Cup?

There are a number of possible tie-break options that have been mooted for deciding the outcome of the two major team golf tournaments in the event of a tie after Sunday’s singles matches.

  • A repeat of the Envelope system, where each captain selects one player before the tournament to play in a tie break. They then play off against each other over 3 holes to decide the winner, with extra holes played if they are level after three holes.
  • As above, but instead of playing three holes, the players play sudden death where the player to win a hole first, wins the cup for their team.
  • The Captains select two players to represent their team who then play a fourball playoff with the first team to win a hole winning the trophy.
  • An intriguing option is to involve every team member and for them to play a par three hole on the course against an opponent from the other team. The number of shots taken by each player is added to the team total and after the 12 players have played for each team, the team with the fewest shots taken wins the cup.

In keeping with the team nature of the event, I think the final option would be the most fitting option as players could play the hole either as a single player, or as a fourball. And with the hole being a par 3, it would not take too long to complete.

Of course, the teams could still be tied after all 12 players have played, in which case we’d start again with the first pairing or fourball until one of the teams wins a sudden-death hole.

Consideration?

After last weekend’s Solheim Cup drama, there are already calls for ties to be removed as a result from the Ryder and Solheim Cup. There have also been more improbable calls to combine the two events.

If this weekend’s Ryder Cup ends in a draw, allowing the US team to retain the trophy, then those calls are only likely to grow louder.

Europe are the slight 11/10 underdogs to win the Ryder Cup this weekend with USA the 10/11 favourites to retain the trophy.

The dreaded draw is a 12/1 shot at bet365.

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