The biggest competition in golf comes to Gleneagles this September as Paul McGinley’s European side take on Tom Watson’s USA team in the battle to lift the 40th Ryder Cup and BBC Sport will be screening prime time free-to-air TV highlights of each day’s play.
One of sport’s most compelling rivalries and arguably the most exciting event in the complete golfing calendar, elite players from Europe and the United States go head-to-head once again in this biennial competition that grips the sporting world for three days every two years.
The 40th Ryder Cup Matches will be played on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Hotel, only the second time the event has visited Scotland, the home of golf, and on a course designed by arguably the game’s greatest player in 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus.
First known as the Monarch’s Course from its opening in 1993, the PGA Centenary has matured to offer a fantastic risk-reward test perfectly suited for the matchplay format of the Ryder Cup.
Indeed 1993 is a symbolic year for the visiting captain and Team USA as it was the last time that an American team won the Ryder Cup on European soil, captained by eight-time major winner Tom Watson himself.
Twenty years on from that triumph, Watson will be aiming to guide his country to their first Ryder Cup success in six years and wipe away the painful memories of Medinah two years ago.
Europe’s 2012 victory, ‘the Miracle in Medinah’, is now part of Ryder Cup folklore as the European team, led by captain Jose Maria Olazabal, rallied from a 10-6 deficit to win eight of the 12 singles matches on the final day to secure a dramatic triumph.
At 10-6 down after the first two days, Europe’s chances of retaining the trophy they won so famously at Celtic Manor two years before looked improbable, but that mindset was certainly not present in the thoughts of the 12 European players and captain Olazabal as they entered the final day singles.
Inspired by the memory of Ryder Cup legend Seve Ballesteros, the European team managed to pull of one of the most sensational sporting upsets in front of a stunned American crowd at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.
Two years since that famous Sunday, now the rivalry is renewed as Paul McGinley takes on Tom Watson for the right to be crowned Ryder Cup winners in the 2014 edition at Medinah.
In terms of both 2014 captains career achievements, Watson’s honours far outstrip the Irishman, having collected 71 worldwide professional victories including eight majors, compared to the Irishman’s four European Tour titles, but those statistics will cease to hold any relevance ahead of the Gleneagles contest.
The only statistic that could count is that Europe go into this Ryder Cup with four of the top five players in the world rankings.
Despite featuring the likes of Masters winner Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and rising stars Rickie Fowler and Jordan Speith, the USA’s task will be made more challenging with the absence of two of its biggest stars in 14-time major winner Tiger Woods and top PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson, coupled by the threat of an ultra-strong European team who are firm favourites to add yet another trophy to their collection.
2014 Open champion and US PGA winner Rory McIlroy has been undoubtedly form golfer of the year and he is the headliner of Paul McGinley’s team, which also boasts the last two US Open winners in Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose.
Recent Ryder Cup history could have read very differently in recent years with Europe only winning the last two encounters by a solitary point, emphasizing how close the two teams are in an era when nearly all of the top European stars ply their trade on the lucrative American PGA Tour.
Europe, and formerly Great Britain & Ireland, were America’s whipping boys for nearly 50 years from the 1930s, but the tables have turned since the mid-1980s with five wins from the last six events, including the memorable success at Medinah two years ago.
That sees McGinley’s side as the favourites to win on Scottish soil, but his players will have to deal with that tag while remain wary of the effect it could have on their much wounded opponents.
All the drama of one of the greatest events in sport will unfold at Gleneagles as Scotland’s sensational summer of sport, which was headlined by a hugely successful Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, concludes with an equally momentous global sporting occasion in the Ryder Cup.
The wait is almost over to see the finest golfers from the United States and Europe go head-to-head for glory as one of sport’s greatest rivalries is rekindled in the 40th edition of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Fans can follow all the drama by watching every stroke live on the Sky Sports Ryder Cup channel or by catching comprehensive free-to-air highlights every evening on BBC Two.
BBC Sport will bring golf fans extensive coverage of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles with comprehensive free-to-air TV highlights complementing full live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live.
Hazel Irvine presents a daily highlights programme on BBC Two and BBC Two HD from September 26-28, featuring all the key moments from the day’s play as well as interviews with the players and captains, plus expert analysis from the BBC team.
Veteran BBC golf broadcaster Peter Alliss leads the commentary team once again alongside two-time European Ryder Cup winner Ken Brown, with 1999 European Ryder Cup captain Mark James also part of the line-up, while reports and interviews come from Rishi Persad.
The first highlights show on Friday, September 26, will be 90-minutes in length, while the two shows on Saturday and Sunday will be two hours long, all of which will be shown in a prime-time evening slot, giving fans the chance to catch up on the day’s events just a few hours after play has concluded on the course.
Golf fans without Sky Sports can listen to complete coverage of the highly anticipated 40th Ryder Cup on BBC Radio 5 live. Starting on Thursday, September 28, Clare Balding has all the build-up from Gleneagles from 12.00pm-2.00pm, followed by the definitive 5 live Ryder Cup preview, hosted by John Inverdale, from 7.00pm-9.00pm.
Nicky Campbell hosts Ryder Cup Breakfast from 6.00am-9.00am for 5 live during the tournament with all the build-up and early stages of play, before the presenting baton passes to John Inverdale and the team for live coverage until 7.00pm, with the 5 live team bringing stroke-by-stroke commentary.
BBC 5 live’s expert commentary team will be led by golf correspondent Iain Carter alongside Andrew Cotter, John Murray, Clare Balding and Alastair Bruce-Ball, while one of the heroes from the 2012 Ryder Cup, Nicolas Colsaerts, joins the 5 live analysis team alongside Scottish golfing legends Sandy Lyle and three-time Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher.
The trio are also joined by PGA tour winner Andrew Magee and Solheim Cup winner and former British Open champion Karen Stupples.
BBC Sport website and app will have live text commentary during all three days of the Ryder Cup featuring all the action plus the thoughts of those on social media, BBC commentators and an up-to-the-minute leaderboard.
There will also be video highlights following the day’s action and clips from press conferences, player interviews and any other key moments.
In addition to the BBC’s comprehensive TV and radio coverage, other support programming ahead of the tournament includes a special edition of BBC Scotland’s Sport XIV – Scotland’s Ryder Cup – where Graham Spiers presents a special preview of the event Gleneagles, airing on BBC One Scotland on Sunday, September 21.
Later in the week, Northern Ireland golfing stars Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell sit down together for the first time in an exclusive TV interview with BBC Northern Ireland in Major Champions.
In the company of Stephen Watson, they reflect on their unprecedented run of golfing success, discuss their relationship with each other and look ahead to the start of the Ryder Cup. Major Champions will be broadcast on BBC One NI at 10.35pm on Wednesday, September 24, with a repeat showing across the UK on BBC Two the following lunchtime at 1.30pm.
Finally, BBC viewers relive all the drama of the final day of the 2012 tournament in The Miracle of Medinah, a replay of the BBC’s full highlights programme from the day, at 2.30pm on BBC Two on Thursday, September 25.
All three programmes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer for up to seven days after transmission.
.Sunday 21st September Sport XIV – Scotland’s Ryder Cup 7.30pm-8.00pm BBC One Scotland
Wednesday 24th September Major Champions 10.35pm-11.35pm BBC One NI
Thursday 25th September Major Champions (rpt) 1.30pm-2.30pm BBC Two Ryder Cup 2012: The Miracle of Medinah 2.30pm-4.30pm BBC Two
Friday 26th September DAY 1: FOURBALLS & FOURSOMES Highlights: 8.30pm-10.00pm BBC Two (11.05pm in Wales)
Saturday 27th September DAY 2: FOURBALLS & FOURSOMES Highlights: 8.30pm-10.30pm BBC Two
Sunday 28th September DAY 3: SINGLES Highlights: 7.30pm-9.30pm BBC Two