BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne police investigating early morning shooting at Rodeway Inn Full Story

Europe's captain Thomas Bjorn hopes for a Brexit-proof Ryder Cup

Since 1979, Europe's best golfers have assembled every two years under the European Union flag to take on the United ...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 4:08 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 4:08 PM

Since 1979, Europe's best golfers have assembled every two years under the European Union flag to take on the United States in the Ryder Cup.

Every generation of European stars, from Seve Ballesteros to Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy, has pulled on the blue and gold colors and stood with pride as 'Ode to Joy' -- the official anthem of the EU -- was played in their honor at opening and closing ceremonies.

But doesn't it all now seem a bit dated -- or even awkward -- after Brexit?

READ: 'The Shark' bites: Greg Norman's mind 'blown' by modern game's failings

The British public voted to leave the EU in a historic 2016 referendum and Brussels officials predict that the extrication process will be complete by the end of 2020.

Right from the off, golf's European Tour insisted that Brexit would have no impact on the Ryder Cup in terms of qualification, format or its team colors.

Europe's 2018 captain, Thomas Bjorn, echoed that sentiment when he spoke to CNN Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue.

The 46-year-old Dane admits it's not his job to discuss the in-and-outs of European politics, but believes his team will line up in France next September in the same spirit as the teams that have gone before them.

"To be in that team room and in that environment represents, I think, everything that's great about Europe," says Bjorn, who won three Ryder Cups as a player and has been a vice-captain on four occasions.

"European players come together in that team and they are the greatest of friends across borders and they represent Europe as a continent in the best possible way.

READ: Tiger Woods targets majors in 2018

"It's something that's very unique to a Ryder Cup team. We play under the European flag but we play for Europe as a continent."

The European flavor of the Ryder Cup has not always existed, however. Founded in 1927, the tournament was originally for British and American players only.

But after a period of U.S. dominance -- they won 16 of the first 19 editions -- Irish players were invited to join the British from 1973 and, in 1979, it was opened up to continental Europe.

Nevertheless, British players more often than not still make up the bulk of the European team. Last time out at Hazeltine, Minnesota, in 2016, seven of the 12 players were British and they were also captained by a Brit, Darren Clarke.

The European Tour is adamant that the UK's separation from the European Union will have no bearing on British players' eligibility as "the criteria for being a European in Ryder Cup terms is a geographical one, not a political or economic one."

Tour officials also plan to continue using the EU flag, which they describe as a "broad symbol of Europe as a whole."

One of Europe's top British stars, Rory McIlroy, made his views clear on Brexit -- and President Trump -- when he tweeted in June 2016: "With Brexit and the way the U.S. Presidential race is going ... can we take a mulligan on 2016??"

A 'mulligan' is an informal second chance to play a golf shot after making a mistake.

At the same time, Bjorn himself reacted negatively to the referendum result on his Twitter account, saying: "Boris as PM, Donald as President. That's a SPECIAL relationship!!! #not confident."

Eighteen months later however, with his captain's hat on, Bjorn is taking a more diplomatic approach to Brexit.

"Whatever political things that are going on in the world and people making decisions that they think are right, that's not for us to really comment on and be part of," says Bjorn, who is only the fourth man from outside the British Isles to captain Europe after Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer.

"This is, in my opinion, the greatest continent in the world and it's a place that I call home and me and those 12 players will be so proud of representing every single person in Europe during the week."

Follow CNN.com/sport for more stories & features

European golf fans will certainly hope their Ryder Cup team remains 'Brexit-proof', given that it's won 11 of the 19 tournaments since Britain and Europe joined forces in '79.

A strong American unit won the last one though -- Jordan Spieth and co. inflicted a comprehensive 17-11 defeat on Clarke's men -- and it looks like Bjorn's Europe will have to be more united than ever if they're going to win the Ryder Cup back.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
Van Wert711
Paulding670
Gallia651
Adams592
Meigs380
Vinton312
Harrison261
Morgan250
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 81°
Angola
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 78°
Decatur
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 81°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events