It seemed at the start of the Presidents Cup most predicted an American win. They had a great team lead by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and they were playing in front of an adoring home crowd. There may be some home course advantage but the result was essentially the same as it was at Royal Melbourne a couple of years ago. If ever there was a course that might have blunted the skills of the Americans it is Royal Melbourne the Americans showed in Melbourne that good golf is transferable to any style of course. In the end it was 18.5 to 15.5 but so dominant had the home team been in the pairs matches that the final round singles was little more than an exhibition. In the end it probably made little difference but the pure swinging International team of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen lost a match they should have easily won when they returned to finish up on Sunday morning after the rain had halted play late on Saturday night. Three up with five to play they threw three bogeys, and a double bogey in four holes at the Americans, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker and the locals gratefully accepted their one hole win. Minutes later after Canadian Graham DeLaet had chipped in from the front of the final green, Keegan Bradley holed from fifteen feet for a tying birdie. If those two matches had swung the other way the singles may have been different but it s eighteen-hole match play and teams that win always pull the odd match out of nowhere. The three Australians, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day, played some terrific golf winning eight points between them. In contrast the South Africans Ernie Els, Schwartzel, Oosthuizen, Brandon Grace and Richard Sterne won only six and a half. The latter quartet grew up idolizing the sweet swinging Els and all four swing with predictable orthodoxy and that makes their failure to win more perplexing. Nick Price was well entitled to assume Geoff Ogilvy would have been a mainstay of this team but his form has been so patchy that it would have been hard to justify his selection. That Sterne and Grace didn t win a point suggested Ogilvy s experience would have made for a stronger and more competitive team. For decades the Ryder Cup was barely more than an exhibition and only the British, who were always losing, took it seriously. Jack Nicklaus was a big part of the great events revival when he suggested the continental European stars be added to what had been a British team. Severiano Ballesteros was the star and thirty-five years after the historic 1979 match the Ryder Cup offers up the most fascinating golf. This Presidents Cup is far off the Ryder Cup. It isn t tour versus tour but rather a match between a whole group of players who primarily ply their trade in the United States. As Mark Calcavecchia said of the 1998 match in Melbourne, why would I what to fly half way around the world to play another guy who lives in Florida. Obviously he misses the point completely but it highlights how far the matches have to go to match the Ryder Cup. What it desperately needs is for the Americans to get beaten and in two years time it moves to South Korea. One wonders how much of a home ground advantage that will be to the Internationals because one assumes the course will be all but indistinguishable from the week-to-week courses we see on the PGA Tour and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are hardly unpopular players in Asia. There are some fine young Korean players though and perhaps players including Seung-Yul Noh and Sang-Moon Bae will be ready to take on the Americans and sway the crowd their way.
Author: Mike Clayton / Golf.org.au