German, US friendship par for course at tournament

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- As the groups sank their last putt into the 18th hole, it quickly became apparent to the captains who had won the tournament.

That wasn't the case earlier in the day. The American team knew the day would be a grind to win the title on their opponent's home course.

But none of that mattered now as they left the green. They'd be the ones holding the coveted trophy high by day's end.

Several Sabers hit the links in the Bitburgerland Ryder Cup tournament July 27 and Aug. 3, 2014, at both the Eifel Mountain Golf Course on base and the Bitburger Land Golf Course in Bitburg, Germany.

The event started in 1997, with this fifth tournament taking place after a 14-year hiatus.

The two-day tournament brought the team from Bitburger Land to Saber Nation, which the German players said they enjoyed.

"We don't have this type of tournament where you're playing against an opponent, so that was exciting for our players," said Roman Graf, Bitburger Land team captain. "It was very exciting for our players to play on base and see some of the planes take off."

Spangdahlem's team ended the first day with a lead of 10 to four. They would only need four-and-a-half points of the remaining 14 to win the tournament.

On the day of the final round, the cloud-filled sky and dew-covered course set the stage as the first group stepped to the tee box.

At first, the American team drives went wayward, but that didn't stop them the rest of the day. Simply making pars, birdies and even an eagle would more than carry the team over the needed points to win the trophy.

But a lop-sided tally wouldn't be in store for the Sabers, as the Bitburgers managed to hold the American team to a 7-7 draw on their course.

Clad in red shirts and black shorts, the American team took home seven points in the final day's 14 singles matches to win the tournament 17 to 11. The next American team will retain a four to one advantage in the series.

But some Americans said the match wasn't all about the competition.

"The first goal is to build relationships with our counterparts and socialize with golfers in the local area," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Stephen McCormack, 52nd Operations Support Squadron flight chief of current operations and Eifel Mountain Golf Course team captain. "We give them an opportunity to come on base, see what our base has to offer and experience our course, as well as for us to go down to their course and experience it."

According to Graf, both captains expressed that keeping the tournament going is important both to them, and the entire golf community. After the match, both teams sat down together and exchanged flags from the others golf course, signed by all the competitors.

What started as a face-off between opposing teams ended as comrades, all hoping it wouldn't be another 14 years for a chance to play again.