This image says it all! The weather turned out to be Team USA’s biggest competitor at the 2013 Presidents Cup. Jack Nicklaus spent the last two years getting the Muirfield Village Golf Course in condition to host this event, and the weather spent one week foiling all of his plans. The 18-time major champion had hoped for a firm, fast golf course to test the players, but what he got was a sloppy mess that could have been worse had he not taken steps to make the course drain quickly. Television shots of balls plugging on the greens became the norm, giving the players the ability to throw darts at them with no fear of the ball rolling into an unplayable lie somewhere around the fringes.
Team International attempted to make a comeback on Sunday afternoon, but they were unable to find the same result the Euros had in last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah. They went down 18.5 to 15.5 for their fifth consecutive loss in a tournament they really lost on Sunday morning during the conclusion to the Foursomes that started Saturday afternoon.
At one time, the International team led all five matches on Saturday, and slowly let the Americans back in. Team USA has not been known to finish strong, but when they came out Sunday morning, they found an International team that was flat, to say the least. A Charl Schwartzel, who couldn’t miss a putt on Saturday evening, couldn’t find the hole on Sunday morning.
Team International was burdened with seven rookies that were overwhelmed to say the least. They got mediocre play from Masters Champs, Adam Scott, and Charl Schwartzel, but got veteran play from rookies, Graham DeLaet, and Brendon de Jonge. They got nothing from Richard Sterne, and Branden Grace.
Both Sterne and Grace went win-less in all of their matches, and I think Captain Nick Price left them together way too long. Richard Sterne was actually playing pretty well, but couldn’t overcome being paired with Grace, who played poorly during the entire event. Sterne came close, but couldn’t beat the world’s number one player on Sunday.
Team USA learned some things at the Presidents Cup that will come in handy when the team goes to Gleneagles for next year’s Ryder Cup. I’m sure Captain Tom Watson was keeping a close eye on the Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar pairing. It worked! Finally, someone who can play with Tiger besides Steve Stricker.
The real anchor on this team all week was Steve Stricker. He was the right person to pair rookie, Jordan Spieth with. He carried the youngster to two points while he was struggling with the situation. Jordan Spieth was absolutely the correct Captain’s Pick for Team USA. He needed this taste of International competition to be ready for the Ryder Cup next year. Spieth will play his way onto Captain Tom’s team, and he will be ready in Scotland.
I think the PGA needs to take a hard look at this event, and find a way for the International teams to be more competitive. They don’t want to copy the Ryder Cup format completely, but maybe they need to go ahead and do that. The Ryder Cup spent many years languishing in mediocrity before it became a marquee event on the bi-annual schedule.
Keep in mind, the USGA and R&A manage the Ryder Cup, and the PGA manages the Presidents Cup. It will be up to Commissioner Tim Finchem, and his staff to find something before this event fades further into obscurity. It comes at a time where it is competing with the NFL, Major League Baseball Playoffs, and the start of the NBA pre-season. And next year, it will be coming from South Korea, and on tape delay to further alienate it from the American sports fans.
Congratulations to Fred Couples on his third Presidents Cup victory. He said after the win that this would be his last Presidents Cup, and he will be stepping down, leaving the door open for someone new. Assistant Captain Jay Haas is being talked about as his replacement.
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