Presidents Cup special because . . .
The Ryder Cup shouldn’t be too worried. The Presidents Cup isn’t going to trump its older rival any time soon. But this year, it seems like everything is pointing toward one terrific competition. The atmosphere at the Presidents Cup rarely approaches the raucousness of the Euro-American golf conflict every other year. But this year could be different.
Here are 10 reasons this year’s Presidents Cup could be better than last year’s Ryder Cup:
1. The venue wins, hands down. Royal Melbourne is supposed to be one of the greatest golf courses in the world, and someone was smart enough to put it in Australia. Nothing against Celtic Manor, but I will take sunny springtime over rainy fall every year. Because of horrible weather, the Ryder Cup ended on Monday last year for the first time in history.
2. The format. The Ryder Cup is played over three days, the Presidents Cup four. Another day of golf is better. And did I mention that it is in Australia?
3. The captains. If you wandered into a bar, whom would you rather have a beer with? Greg Norman and Fred Couples win this one by the 28-hour flight to Melbourne. Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie were deserving captains, but we have to have some sort of standard. Asking the question, ‘Whom would you rather have a beer with?’ seems like as good as any. We could have gone with majors or ex-wives, and Greg and Freddy win that way, too.
4. The teams. Nearly half of the International Team is made up of Aussies (five), including Geoff Ogilvy, who lives within a couple of miles of Royal Melbourne. Add the three South Africans who are all major-championship winners, and on paper this is one of the strongest teams ever assembled. I repeat: on paper.
5. Tiger Woods. Yes, Tiger was a captain’s pick on this year’s Presidents Cup team and last year’s Ryder Cup squad, but no one blinked when Tiger was picked last year (except Jim Gray). This year, Woods' selection has caused an uproar. Keegan Bradley was left off the team, and that is regrettable. But people have been talking about the Presidents Cup for months for the first time in recent memory.
6. Steve Williams. Adam Scott's caddie, fired by Woods this year, proved once again that no foot is too big to stuff into his mouth. Williams' racially charged comments in China about his former boss passed inappropriate and landed in the offensive. But by all accounts, he will be on Scott’s bag for the next couple of weeks, and that will cause quite a stir. Not to mention that Williams likely is one slip-up from getting sacked again.
7. History. Yes, I know that this is a stretch, but Royal Melbourne is the only site of an outright International victory in the Presidents Cup. In 1998, Norman and Steve Elkington beat Couples and Davis Love III in the Day 2 four-balls, helping the International squad to its only win.
8. Prime time. All the golf from Australia will be live on Golf Channel and XM radio. Yes, NBC will run it on Saturday and Sunday in its normal golf window, but if you are a night owl, you can catch it live, beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
9. The Asians. You may not know much about Kyung-Tae Kim or Ryo Ishikawa, but these two young players are going to be around for a long time. Two staples on the team will be K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang, and I assure you that is a duo that no one wants to be pitted against.
10. The matchup. On paper, the International Team looks virtually unbeatable, and Vegas agrees. The International Team is a heavy betting favorite.
The first Presidents Cup was played in 1994, and the Americans have dominated the competition. However, on the two occasions that the matches have taken place somewhere other than North America, the International squad has been formidable. In 1998, the Internationals waxed the US team, 20.5-11.5 Five years later, in South Africa, the matches ended in a 17-17 tie. In other words, the Americans are 0-1-1 when forced to cross an ocean. They are 6-0 in the US and Canada.