2011: An edgier Presidents Cup
Victoria, Australia – The Presidents Cup has always been the calmest of all international team golf events.
It's the kind you'd like to grab by the cheek, or pat on the head. Your grandmother would love it.
For years, it was the nicer alternative to the Ryder Cup. That competition was fierce. There appeared to be genuine hatred and elation at beating your opponent.
The Presidents Cup wasn't like that.
It was created back in 1994 and it features players from the United States all the way to Australia with stops in South Africa, Japan, South Korea and Canada.
But, most of the participants, even on opposing sides, lived down the street from each other in gated communities in Florida.
The golf has always been good, but the buzz and the heat, well that's been tepid.
Until this year that is and the man to thank is Mr. Tiger Woods.
His mere inclusion in this Presidents Cup started the flame.
American captain Fred Couples not only elected to use one of his picks on Woods, who hasn't won in two years and fell outside the top 50 in the world rankings, but did it almost a month before the picks were due.
That left Couples with only one pick and he used it on Bill Haas, who won the Tour Championship, and, in the process, the FedExCup.
Couples' problem stems from the fact that Woods, his poor recent performances and all, got the nod over Keegan Bradley. All Bradley did this year was win twice, including a major at the PGA Championship.
Woods' selection and the timing of it brought unrequited responses from Couples' counterpart, International captain Greg Norman. He questioned the Tiger pick. Geoff Ogilvy, one of Norman's 12, questioned the need to do it so early.
Couples, as reserved as a table on Valentine's Day, actually fired back and criticized Norman's selection of Robert Allenby. Couples reminded the world Allenby is winless on the PGA Tour in the last decade.
Petty sniping resembles school girls. The next set of comments were far from it and once again, Woods was in the middle.
Steve Williams accepted an award at a tongue-in-cheek caddie dinner for his idiotic ramblings after his new man, International star Adam Scott, won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
In doing so, he made a racial slur about Woods. Scott and Woods could easily be opponents any time this week and Woods hasn't forgotten anything since the third grade.
All of this pre-tournament gabbing makes for an interesting, intense Presidents Cup.
So too does the environment.
There has been no bigger home-course advantage than Royal Melbourne. Allenby first played it at the age of 12. Ogilvy owns a home on the course. There are five Aussies on Norman's team.
The U.S. is a long way from home. Its only loss in the history of this competition came at Royal Melbourne 13 years ago. It was its only loss and it was a doozy. The Internationals came out with a 20 1/2 - 11 1/2 drubbing and the vibe will be strongly pro-International.
At the Ryder Cup, you'll see fans of the road team. It's maybe a 10-hour flight at most, but there won't be many red, white and blue hats in the gallery when it takes a full day to get to Australia from the east coast.
The Internationals bring a good, but not great team to Royal Melbourne on Thursday. Scott, Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel are all great at the moment, but long-time stalwarts like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are struggling with their games.
The American side is limping in as well. Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan will have more people working on their necks than their short games. Woods is off, Jim Furyk is off, Phil Mickelson is off and the true strength of Couples' side rests in unproven bombers like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.
Call the Royal Melbourne/Australia home advantage enough for a second International victory.
At least people will be talking about it.