There are lots of things that happen once a year. The novelty separated by 364 days makes Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl all the more appealing. But imagine if those seemingly geopolitical celebrations occurred with slightly less regularity. Like a lunar eclipse or a plague of locusts (Incidentally, ‘a plague of locusts’ is the proper term for a mass of such insects, much like a pride of lions or an ambush of tigers.), their irregularity gives them more weight in tipping the balance of significance in our lives.
If you’re wondering what to call a biennial event pitting the best golfers in America against Australia, Asia and Africa, it is ‘The Presidents Cup.’ At first glance, it may not seem fair for one single country to take on multiple continents. But it is. And that’s the way we like it.
The Presidents Cup spawned from The Ryder Cup, which originally included only British and Americans. But a long winning streak by the yanks inspired the inclusion of Seve Ballesteros and the rest of Europe.
The Ryder Cup is steeped in history and offered little or no prize money for years, just the possession of a single trophy donated by the man who gave the contest its name. TV coverage eventually generated enough money to filtered down to the players. But, like The Presidents Cup, it’s not money that leads players to feel more pressure than even the major championships. All of them are playing for basically two things: national pride and their teammates. Great athletic achievement is born out of such things, which explains how soccer got to be the most-watched sport in the world.
A more enjoyable way to watch grass grow without all those soccer players in the way starts this Thursday with the 9th Presidents Cup. Captain Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Couples has brought his American team to the land down under to take on International team helmed by Greg ‘the Great White Shark’ Norman in his native Australia. Norman, who’s every bit as competitive as he ever was, will try to gain every advantage possible by setting up the course to suit the strengths of his squad. Americans are typically longer hitters and our style of play is more target-oriented from fairway-to-green. That might entail tighter fairways, more bump-and-run approach shots and even more sand traps. Essentially, a strategic ambush to give International players like KJ Choi and Adam Scott the edge that could determine who spills the most Champagne afterwards.
Norman was once the most well-known athlete in Australia and the number-one-ranked golfer in the world, until his dethroning by Tiger Woods. The team captains decide who plays in which match; Norman or Couples still got game and could elect to be playing captains.
The marquee match up for Day 1 features Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker vs. Adam Scott and KJ Choi. A couple significant side stories should be noted here: 1. This is the two-year anniversary since Tiger Woods’s private life became much less private brought about by, well you know. 2. Tiger’s former caddy, Steve Williams, has been Adam Scott’s looper since Tiger fired him. The last time they faced off, Scott won the tournament, and Williams, apparently caught up in the moment, not only stole the spotlight from Scott, but when speaking afterwards said this victory meant more to him than the dozen or so majors he won with Tiger. Williams, to his credit, apologized for his overenthusiasm. But just last week, he stated his intent in ‘winning’ that Tournament with Scott was to, ‘shove it up right up that black ass,’ which he has since also apologized for. Needless to say, there’s still some bad blood between the two blokes. Come Monday, Williams might again be making another apology to someone. 3. American PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, who also won the Grand Slam of Golf just last month has been playing some of the best golf of anyone all year, is not playing in The Presidents Cup. Couples chose Tiger instead of Bradley. Tiger was 5-0 at the last Presidents Cup but hasn’t made many dents in leaderboards since. The decision to go with Woods certainly makes for more interesting side stories, and, will no doubt yield higher TV ratings. See the full schedule here.
If USA doesn’t bring the cup back home, everyone knows what the first question at the press conference directed at Captain Couples will be. And, that might make for good TV, too.
Nothing quite like team play golf. The added pressure of letting down more than one’s self makes each shot more important. Thursday thru Saturday feature team play events, which give way to the singles matches on Sunday. If you enjoy the foursomes and four-ball matches, ask your club president to schedule more best-ball or alternate shot competitions.