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Mellow, laid-back Presidents Cup will never be edgy Ryder Cup and that's a good thing

Photo: Getty Images

Tiger Woods and Fred Couple share a laugh at the 2011 Presidents Cup, a much more laid-back event than its counterpart, the deathly serious Ryder Cup.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how to “save” the Presidents Cup, brought on by the U.S.’s dominance. The Yanks have lost only once since the Cup was inaugurated in 1994, and on paper this year’s matchup is the most lopsided yet; nine members of the U.S. team are in the top 15 of the World Ranking, while the Internationals have only one.

But it would be a mistake to blow up the Presidents Cup by changing the format of the matches (as was advocated by International captain Nick Price) or something more radical, like turning it into the loser’s bracket of the Ryder Cup, as some members of the golf salon have suggested. The primary complaint about the Presidents Cup is that it’s not the Ryder Cup, which is to say, it lacks the win-it-all-costs edginess and upchuck-inducing pressure. No, the Presidents Cup will never be the Ryder Cup, and that’s a good thing. It is exactly what the Ryder Cup was supposed to be before it was turned into the overhyped Super Bowl of Golf: a goodwill exhibition match.

The fact is, even the players don’t really care who wins the Presidents Cup, so why should we get worked up about it? This mellowness is the key to the Cup’s charm. We can enjoy the golf without having to endure the drunken futbol chants that are now the soundtrack to the Ryder Cup. Jingoism is kept to a minimum and, thankfully, so are the public roles of the significant others. More importantly, with a reduced sphincter factor, the players are freed up to put on a show. At the Ryder Cup everyone is playing not to lose and so the golf itself is often defensive and boring. The Presidents Cup is match-play virtuosity at its finest. There’s a reason guys like Shigeki Maruyama and Mark O’Meara have gone 5-0 at the Presidents Cup -- they’re having fun! Tiger Woods did it in 2009, and he didn’t drop a single f-bomb along the way! Dour Jim Furyk is 9-17-4 at the Ryder Cup but 20-10-3 at the Presidents Cup, where he has actually been known to smile occasionally.

Hey, like everyone else I love the biennial apocalypse that is the Ryder Cup, but it took six decades of U.S. blowouts before the event developed any personality. And, frankly, one Ryder Cup is enough. The Presidents Cup is something else altogether. Above all, it’s one last chance for golf fans to enjoy seeing their favorite players. Try to remember that when the Americans win in another blowout.

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