Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Presidents Cup
All together now: USA! USA! USA!
Feels pretty good once every two years, doesn’t it? Put another way, it’s a good thing America has the Presidents Cup to stir up some pride in between Ryder Cup whippings.
The United States once again took the International team to the woodshed, winning the 2011 Presidents Cup by a more-dominating-than-it-sounds 19-15 margin. And this was supposed to be the year the Internationals -- an Aussie-heavy squad playing on home turf -- broke a five-match victory drought.
Instead, the Americans succeeded where they so often fail against Europe’s Ryder Cuppers: on the greens. The U.S. squad made miles of twisting putts across Royal Melbourne’s diabolical, wind-whipped surfaces, continually snuffing any spark of a comeback.
With Uncle Sam’s finest pushing their all-time record to 7-1-1 against the Internationals, a question lingers: Why don’t the Americans play like this in the Ryder Cup? The Europeans have claimed four of the past five and six of eight since 1995.
Who knows? And for now, who cares? America’s golf community should enjoy the moment.
After all, the next Ryder Cup is just 10 months away.
The Presidents Cup produced a bevy of heroes and goats. We singled out these for polite applause and tacit disapproval:
Royal Melbourne: Talk about living up to the hype. The Alister MacKenzie-designed masterpiece delivered compelling theater each day, the constantly changing conditions only highlighting the layout’s brilliance. And somehow, the setup crew kept things fair despite green speeds in excess of 14 (!) on the Stimpmeter.
Jim Furyk: Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, Furyk didn’t figure to make a big impact. Surprise! By going 5-0, Furyk paced the Americans and became the first player over 40 to win all his Presidents Cup matches.
Fred Couples’ captain’s picks: To the chagrin of many, Freddie followed rule No. 1 in making his captain’s picks: Never, ever pass up Tiger Woods. While Woods’ 2-3 record was nothing special, he played well in team-match defeats and even better in singles. For good measure, Woods clinched the Cup with a 4-and-3 beatdown of Aaron Baddeley on Sunday. Couples’ other choice, Bill Haas, was solid in splitting his five matches.
While Woods’ and Haas’s combined 4 ½ - 4 ½ record may seem pedestrian, it compared quite favorably with the International captain’s picks. Which leads us to…
Greg Norman’s wild-card selections: Baddeley was bad, posting a 1 ½ - 3 ½ record. Robert Allenby was worse, putting up a big, fat doughnut against four defeats. That’s a combined score of 1 ½ - 7 ½, making Norman’s pre-Cup criticism of Couples ring rather hollow.
The Presidents Cup’s standing alongside the Ryder Cup: Sure, it’s fun to win. But until these matches become more competitive, the Ryder Cup will remain golf’s biggest biennial affair. By a longshot.