PGA Tour Confidential: The secret to U.S. Presidents Cup success, Man of the Match awards, and NBC's tape-delay blues

Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples
Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar went 3-1 in team play at the 2013 Presidents Cup.

3. What explains Tiger Woods’ strong record in Presidents Cup competition and relatively poor showings in Ryder Cup? The pressure? The opposition?

BAMBERGER: See above, and add Fred. Tiger hates it when people expect things of him, because he expects so much of himself. He's played for Fred in three of these, and Fred demands nothing. That allows Tiger to be Tiger.

GODICH: Nothing motivates the Europeans more than taking down Tiger. You can see their whole team feed off of it. He always seems to get the best shot of every Euro he's paired against.

RITTER: Clearly Tiger and the rest of the U.S. team have more fun at the Presidents Cup. That counts for something. Also, the Internationals don't have the same collection of talent --or a home-course advantage when they host it -- as the Europeans. Road games in the Ryder Cup are far more daunting than the Prez.

VAN SICKLE: Tiger's partners are more freewheeling in the PC as the Americans feel less pressure. Plus, until recently, maybe the international players were still a little bit more intimidated by Tiger than the Euros, who seemed almost gleeful for the chance to take him down.

WALKER: Fred Couples should get some of the credit for Tiger’s better performance in team play at the Presidents Cup than the Ryder Cup. (His singles record in the Ryder Cup is excellent.) The whole team takes its cue from Couples and that creates an effervescent style of play, the opposite of Tiger’s usual brooding.

SENS: Not the pressure, but probably the opposition. And certainly a third factor, which the question ignores: the play of Tiger's partners, particularly in the early years of Tiger's reign, when his aura was so great his own teammates struggled in his company. It's no accident that as the power of that aura has waned, Tiger's Ryder Cup record has improved (he's 6 and 3 in his last two Cups). It's easier for his partners to play well when they're paired with a man, not a mythic figure.

PASSOV: If you can explain this one, you're one up on me.

4. Is it possible the U.S. learned something at Muirfield Village that's going to help at Ryder Cup? If so, what?

BAMBERGER: The U.S. should know that their regular golf is good enough. You don't have to be Superman. Poulter can be Poulter and Sergio can be Sergio, but that doesn't mean Dufner has to be Hogan. Dufner being Dufner is good enough. And if it's not, it will at least be close.

VAN SICKLE: One thing Fred Couples may have delivered was a message of consistency. He stuck with most of his pairings for foursomes and fourballs. He didn't shake things up and twist them around. He was patient. Maybe Ryder Cup captains shouldn't be so quick to break up duos just because they lost. On the other hand, Ryder Cup captains have to sit out four players per session, Fred had to sit only two each session on Saturday. That's an easier way to captain.

WALKER: Nothing. Because if they had learned something at the last two Presidents Cup, Fred Couples would have been offered the captain’s job.

PASSOV: Matchups and pairings-- camaraderie, if you will -- will yield some significant insights for the next Ryder Cup.

GODICH: I don't know that the Americans learned anything by winning an event everybody expected them to dominate, but it can't hurt that they got a few more opportunities to play alternate shot. 

RITTER: The biggest lesson is the effectiveness of the Woods-Kuchar and Zach-Duf duos. There were other great pairings, but these are two new combos we can probably expect to see on the team and at it again at Gleneagles.

SENS: The awesome power of not caring too much about results. We all see it in our own play. And the dynamic (in an obviously elevated form) is a part of the pro game too.

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