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The Insider's Guide to The Ryder Cup

By Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- Everything you need to know about this weekend's golfing grudge match in Ireland.

OK, so who's Ryder? Why does he have a cup?

The Ryder Cup is a prestigious golf trophy contested every two years by teams from Europe and the United States. In a sport built around individual brilliance, the Ryder is the most famous team event. The cup was born in England in 1926 when seed merchant Samuel Ryder, a golf enthusiast who didn't discover the game until after his 50th birthday, organized an informal match between Britain and America. This year's event is being held at the K Club in Straffan, Ireland.

Ireland? So it's not just the Brits and Americans then?

Indeed. After 45 years of American dominance -- Britain managed to scrape only one victory between 1935 and 1973 -- the competition was extended to Ireland in 1973 and the rest of Europe in 1979. The Ryder Cup has been much more competitive since then, with both sides coming up trumps 13 times each.

Great, so at least we'll get to watch a bit of a fight.

You bet! Having lost the last two tournaments, the Americans are looking for revenge. With an emphasis on old-fashioned teamwork and camaraderie, it seems a star-studded U.S. team is on course to earn its stripes together.

The Americans have the world's top three ranked players -- Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, and the phenomenal Tiger Woods -- but they know they must create an environment that will allow its players to thrive.

Woods probably has more of a point to make than anyone else: accused of being aloof in team events in the past, he has made an effort this year to take a leadership role, surprising many by singing a song -- albeit reluctantly -- at a team-bonding event.

Everyone knows about Tiger. What about the other side?

They might not have too many players in the world top10 -- only Spain's Sergio Garcia and England's Luke Donald make the cut at numbers 9 and 10 -- but they have players with the experience and gritty team-play that could edge things their way. Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, and Lee Westwood are just some of Europe's Ryder Cup veterans who have previously managed to rattle their American counterparts.

Isn't golf a bit of a snooze to watch on TV?

OK, so it's never going to beat Desperate Housewives for intrigue, but even if you're not a golf fan, it could be worth tuning in. There's the glamour of the uber fashion conscious European golfers, drama from Hurricane Gordon, which is threatening to make an unscheduled appearance, and a row over an Irish magazine that falsely linked Tiger Woods' Swedish wife Elin to pornographic Web sites -- causing quite a stir among the WABs.

WABs? Is this some sort of hi-tech golf advancement?

Hardly. It stands for the Wives and Birdies, a politically incorrect golf pun that refers to the players' partners. The WABs have now become a regular fixture of the Cup; in recent years the opening parade of Ryder Cup wives, decked out in elaborate costumes and hairdos, has been subjected to as much media scrutiny as the golf-swings of their other halves.


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Tiger Woods leads the U.S. challenge.

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