No easy fix for Presidents Cup
Philadelphia, PA – The United States of America won the Presidents Cup for the seventh time in nine tries on Sunday.
That's domination and we need to fix it. As a patriot of my country, seeing American victories tickles my nationalistic fancy, but as the senior golf editor for an international wire service...yawn.
The U.S. won 19-15 this week and while that may seem like a whopping margin of victory, it was a little closer than that, especially on Sunday. Traditionally, this thing has gone down the "rout route" more often than not, and changes need to be made.
The problem is, that's much easier said than done.
When the U.S. won Ryder Cup after Ryder Cup in the mid-70s, Jack Nicklaus suggested to the powers that be for the Great Britain & Ireland team to incorporate all of Europe.
They listened, added the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, disco dies, Carter leaves the White House and the Ryder Cup is suddenly the most interesting event in the sport.
Simple additions like that can't happen for the Presidents Cup. When the geographical parameters specify, to paraphrase, "the rest of the world excluding the U.S. and Europe," there isn't much wiggle room.
Unless Martians prove to be good putters and Commissioner Finchem is willing to expand on an inter-galactic level, we need answers from within.
To his credit, International captain Greg Norman knew something needed to be done. In his post-loss press conference, the Shark offered some suggestions.
"I also think the International Team captain should have four picks, not two," he said. "The base of golfers that the International Team comes from, outside of Europe; about 300 million strong population-wise. I have a much more diverse cross-section, or the captain has, a much more diverse cross-section of a base of golfers to go to. And we don't get to play week-in, week-out like the Americans do with the Americans all the time.
"We need to have the opportunity for what we see, as international captains, as international players, to balance out our team for what we see as the right move. I had three other guys on my team that could have easily been on my team, but I couldn't put on my team. The top eight are going to get in anyway. So the top No. 9 or 10 would probably get in any way. So it just gives the opportunity for the captain to build a business."
Every losing captain wants more picks. Norman should because one of his, Robert Allenby, got skunked 0-4 and his other, Aaron Baddeley, wasn't much better.
In Norman's theory, Ryo Ishikawa and Y.E. Yang would be out. Although, Norman stated he'd probably have taken them anyway, it's hard to imagine what Nick O'Hern, Vijay Singh or John Senden would have helped.
You can give the Internationals four picks if they think it'll help. I don't, but if they sleep better than fine.
Norman's point about the size and diversity of his player-pool is valid, but ultimately a moot point. He can't change where people come from, but language barriers are more of a concern for the Internationals than for the Americans.
Also, the motivation of the International team has to become clearer in focus. The Americans defend one country. The European Ryder Cup team defends one continent and since all of them start or continue to play on the European Tour, they're territorial about their stomping grounds.
The International team is protecting South Africa, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Fiji, China and everywhere in between. Most of the International team lives in Florida. What exactly does the International team represent?
"Hey, let's do it for every continent but North America and Europe. Go Antarctica!"
Paul Azinger, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and the only man who can claim that in the '00s, said on Twitter this week, that his now-famous pod system could work for Internationals. Group players together all week in practice and see how it goes.
"IMO (in my opinion), a pod system or small groups would help Int team immensely. Europeans bonded by small groups. Brits Scots Irish Spanish Swedes etc.," Zinger tweeted. "How can Int team bond in 3 days.They're oceans separating these guys! USA would have harder time beating an all Ausie team."
That may be, but there needs to be some sort of rallying cry for the Internationals. Four straight losses and basic manly pride better do the trick next time.
Norman also complained about the format, and here, he's absolutely right.
"I don't think you should start foursome, four-ball, foursome, four-ball," he said. "I think it should be the host nation's opportunity to dictate how the format is played."
That happens in the Ryder Cup. It makes perfect sense as the host team to set the rules to best help them. Seve started this in 1997. Obviously, since the Internationals went 3-8 in foursomes, which opened Thursday and Saturday, they would start in four-balls. A better start leads to better play.
The Presidents Cup has a great advantage over the Ryder Cup in how matches are determined. The captains sit down and one says who he's playing, the other puts their opponents out, then the second captain puts out his lineup for second match first, and so on.
The defending champion gets the right to start on Thursday or defer his pick to the other side. Couples deferred and then could go on and adapt his plan based on what Norman was doing.
"I think the host nation should have the opportunity to defer on their choices," Norman said.
Home team should get perks.
Little things like these could help, but more needs to be done.
The single biggest factor that costs the Internationals against the U.S. isn't foursomes, or who says what team plays first. It's the fact that the Americans are infinitely deeper than the Internationals.
So, instead of expansion, which, again is impossible due to, well the Earth, lets get some old-fashioned George Costanza shrinkage.
In the Presidents Cup, everyone plays foursomes on Thursday, then four-balls on Friday. There are five of both on Saturday, then the singles. In the Ryder Cup, there are four of both type on Friday and Saturday, then singles.
If the Internationals can't match the depth, cut the number of matches so the International side can sit its weakest links. If Norman couldn't sat Allenby more than once, or sat a dismal Jason Day for a session to get his thoughts together, it would help.
We all know the easiest fix is for the Internationals to putt better and consequently play better. The answer isn't so simple to explain a 7-1-1 record.
The tour should listen to Norman, something it traditionally doesn't. He's done this twice now and that puts him in the unique position to know what he's talking about.
The PGA Tour should also listen to me about trimming the number of matches.
Then it should talk to NASA to see if aliens can putt.
- Tim Rosaforte of Golf Channel confirmed after The Presidents Cup on air, then via Twitter, that Nick Price will be the next International captain. Only choice, but a good one. Vijay or K.J. Choi probably gets the nod after that.
- The Americans are in a different position. Based on comments after play, Fred Couples sounded like a guy who would come back. The PGA Tour needs a philosophy on how the U.S. captain will be determined. Reward former stars like Trevino or Watson? Champions Tour guys like Haas or Calcavecchia who didn't get Ryder Cup captaincies? Or late-40s guys without chances at the Ryder Cup gig because they are majorless like Stricker?
- I enjoyed Golf Channel's coverage of The Presidents Cup a great deal. Combined with NBC it did a nice job, but using David Feherty on the course with them was wise. He's clearly becoming the face of Golf Channel, although I'd go with Holly Sonders for that honor.
- South Korea makes great sense for the 2015 Presidents Cup. As much as a pain as it is for us East-coasters, this event needs to travel and South Korea is the up-and-comer of the group.
- Jim Furyk's 5-0 record was one of the most unexpected performances in recent memory. He gave a lot of credit to Phil Mickelson, who Furyk said basically went to Couples and asked to play with him. "I assume that he asked to play with me because he felt like he could get a lot out of me this week; that maybe he could help me and pump some confidence into me and get me playing well, and he did that," Furyk said.
- Jason Day was really disappointing this week. Looked very nervous about being a big-time guy in his home country. Dustin Johnson couldn't make the same excuse.
- TV moment - Since I haven't see many movies of late, I'll go with TV and tell you I'm disappointed in "Up All Night." There's a lot of talent on that show with Applegate, Arnett and Rudolph. I wanted to like it considering I will be in the same position three months from now, but I've laughed twice in three months.