PGA Tour Confidential: Tiger's playing partners, Presidents Cup vs. Ryder Cup and the PGA Tour's top secret voting

Tiger Woods and Fred Couples
Getty Images
U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and Tiger Woods at the Memorial in June 2013.

Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Compare the Presidents Cup to the Ryder Cup: Pale imitation, strong but a clear second, or virtual equal?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: You can't even begin to compare the two. The Ryder Cup works because there's an actual rivalry there. The Presidents Cup is a nice (to borrow a phrase) golfing get-together. Our interest always stems from the players' interest, e.g., the U.S. Open at Merion versus the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Pale imitation. Its finest hour was when they changed the rules in the middle of the Tiger-Ernie playoff to allow a tie. That was also its lowest hour. It's difficult to see a Rest of the World squad as a team. Europe has a camaraderie in the Ryder Cup that no International team will ever have. It's still fun to watch, but it's not going to be compelling until the Internationals start winning a few times.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine (@CameronMorfit): The Presidents Cup has become less interesting as time goes on, partly because the Internationals never win, and partly because there is simply too much going on between the WGCs and the FedEx and the Players and the majors. Plus the Int's have always just seemed like such a diffuse group. Do they even have a fight song? A flag? A logo? This event couldn't be more vanilla if it tried, and that's bad TV.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf.com (@michaelwalkerjr): Strong but clear second. The Ryder Cup is a blood feud that stirs dark passions unmatched in golf and maybe even all of sport. The Presidents Cup is what the Ryder Cup used to be: a friendly and entertaining exhibition designed to show off the best players in the game's best format -- team play -- to an international audience.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): A pale imitation. What Bud Light Lime is to actual beer. They can say it’s beer,  and even try to add an exotic twist, just like they can call the Presidents Cup a compelling competition with international flavor. But discerning consumers know the difference between it and the real thing.

Joe Passov, senior editor, courses and travel, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): For me, the Presidents Cup falls right in between “pale imitation” and “strong but clear second” compared to the Ryder Cup. Once the matches begin, it's captivating. I can't get too worked up ahead of time, however. There's no real rivalry here. The results have been too one-sided, there's not enough animosity between players and tours as is the case with the Ryder Cup and there's not much unity among rest-of-the-world Presidents Cup players, who come from too many different backgrounds. 

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com (@Jeff_Ritter): The Presidents Cup is the Diet Coke of international golf competitions. It quenches your thirst, but it's only one calorie. Not enough.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): To quote a great golf philosopher, it is what it is. The Prez doesn't have the Ryder's intensity, obviously, but that's not a bad thing. The players are more relaxed so the golf is better; at the Ryder, everyone is playing not to lose, so the golf is often defensive. And I like the Prez's low-key vibe. One overhyped  "Super Bowl of Golf" is enough, thanks.

2. If U.S. Captain Fred Couples does indeed split up the Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker team, who's the best player to pair with Tiger?

MORFIT: I think Stricker and Spieth have to be paired together, based on Stricker reportedly making nine birdies when they played a practice round against Mickelson/Keegan at East Lake. I'd pair Tiger with Dufner. The two have a lot of respect for each other and are friends. 

PASSOV: If he's looking to replace Stricker's usual clutch putting, Brandt Snedeker is top choice. If it's substituting for Stricker's low-key demeanor, flat-liner Jason Dufner and his remarkable ball-striking fit the bill. 

SHIPNUCK: Either Keegan or Jordan. Their youthful vigor should keep him interested. Just about the most fun I've ever seen Woods have in a golf course was as a long-ago Ryder Cup playing with Chris Riley, who was like goofy, lovable puppy. 

RITTER: We've seen how Phil became energized while playing alongside a fired up Keegan Bradley, so this week I'd like to see Tiger play with Spieth. The Stricker-Woods pairing is definitely over. Why not try sticking Woods with the youngest guy on your team, just to see what happens?

VAN SICKLE: With Tiger's short game, it would be nice to have Brandt Snedeker (like Stricker, a great putter) backing him up in alternate shot. Seriously, who doesn't want to be paired with the best putter on the team?

WALKER: At this point in his career, Tiger should be ready to play the mentor. Pair him with Jordan Spieth. If not Spieth, then Matt Kuchar is the kind of steady pro's pro that Tiger has always favored.

BAMBERGER: The ideal playing partner for Tiger Woods would be a clone of Tiger Woods. I think Stricker is worn out by the attention, and still getting over last year's Ryder Cup, so he really is out. Fred himself would be a good playing partner, but that of course is not an option. It's pretty tough. I'd go with Spieth, since Fred seems to understand that this thing is a TV show and that pairing would make for good TV. Or, in the Stricker role, Zach Johnson.

SENS: Jordan Spieth. Likes the big stage, won’t be daunted and won’t mind playing the beta dog to Tiger’s alpha. But really, can we stop with all the agonizing over who Tiger will play with? He’s no more important to winning than any other member of the team, and all the years of tip-toeing around him only reinforces the bogus idea that he is somehow above or apart from the rest of the squad. Treating him like just another one of the guys would make it easier on his partner. And you have to think Tiger would like it too.

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