If the Presidents Cup is a legitimate match, then shouldn’t both sides have a legitimate shot at winning? That’s what Adam Scott was getting at when he said recently, “I feel it's important for the Internationals to win.” Well, yeah, it is.
The U.S. leads the biennial series 7-1-1 and has trounced the Internationals by at least four points in each of the last three meetings. That’s a big part of the reason why the Presidents Cup has generated so little buzz amid a crowded golf landscape at the end of the season. It just doesn’t seem to be a fair fight.
And don’t look now, but the onslaught may get worse before it gets better. Of the 12 guys on the International team this year, which will face the Yanks at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, Thursday through Sunday, only two have winning records: Ernie Els at 17-16-2 in seven P-Cup appearances, and Charl Schwartzel at 3-1-1 in his debut at Royal Melbourne two years ago, when the Americans won 19-15.
Oh, and Tiger Woods (a sporty 20-14-1 in his Presidents Cup career) has banked five victories at Muirfield, while boring but deadly teammates Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker have also won at Jack’s place. And Jordan Spieth, who plays for the Red, White and Blue, is the hottest young player to hit the Tour since Rory Mac.
So that’s the bad news. The good news for International captain Nick Price is seven of his men have no Presidents Cup record at all. That makes Graham DeLaet, Branden Grace, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne and captain’s picks Brendon de Jonge and Marc Leishman undefeated in P-Cup play.
Take that, captain Couples!
The Internationals have to take their silver linings where they can find them because this event has become a joke. The Americans have a better record at Muirfield. They take up more spots than the Internationals in the World Ranking top 10 (6-1) and top 25 (10-4). And the last time Ernie Els and the boys actually came close was the 17-17 tie at Fancourt, South Africa, in 2003, when captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player huddled in the dark and decided to forego tie-breakers and just call it a draw. Bill Clinton was still in office the last time the Internationals actually won, at Royal Melbourne in ’98, the first time the event was played outside the States. But then you knew that because you live and breathe the Presidents Cup and you collect the action figures and — yeah, right.
Predictably lopsided results and the public’s indifference go hand in hand, but there’s still hope for the pulse-free Presidents Cup. The Ryder Cup was flat-lining, too, until Europe — which hasn’t always looked so hot on paper, either — coalesced around Seve Ballesteros and started winning at the Belfry in ’85.
So, yes, the second-ranked Scott, the highest ranked International player, is right, but he hasn’t gone far enough. It’s not just “important” for the Internationals to win. If this event is ever going to stand on its own two feet, it’s everything.