Date: October 04, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

King is dead; long live the Queen

OK, I’m finally prepared to call it.

It goes against almost every sinew in my body, but, battered and mentally scarred again, I’m ready to admit we might never again beat the United States in team golf.

There, I said it.

By “we”, naturally, I mean the rag-tag bunch of players plucked from Asia, Africa, South America and our own Oceania back yard. The Presidents Cup’s “Internationals”, for what that’s worth.

I’ve been talking up our chances everywhere I could in the past month – check that, past decade – so please forgive me if I sound down on the topic. It’s just that watching Phil Mickelson celebrate in red, white and blue while crowds are chanting “U-S-A” is akin to the joys of taking a hot shower after you’ve become badly sunburnt.

We ALL know ALL the excuses …

We don’t get to practise as a team.

We’re not representing one “country” or flag, so there’s no “spirit”.

The crowds don’t get behind all the players because they don’t know them that well.

We don’t have the Americans’ depth.

We don’t know the courses, we haven’t played mountains of collegiate team golf, we are at the end of a long season and travel way less than them …


How about this?

Let’s stop sooking and admit three gut-wrenching facts:

  1.      1. That horrendously annoying home crowd might actually be worth a shot or two;
  2.      2. We can’t putt as well as they do; and
  3.      3. They’re better than us.

Jeez that hot water stings, doesn’t it? I mean, that REALLY hurts.

Normally, such an open, cathartic experience is meant to make you feel better. But this, as I said, is deeper than that. This is to-the-core angst. I hate losing to American teams. Always have and always will.

Right, so what next? We can’t go through this every two years. We just can’t.

As much as I’m clinging to memories of 1998 at Royal Melbourne, it’s time to kiss goodbye this current format.

But let’s not consign the Presidents Cup to the history pages. How about a solution that has been mooted in some circles this week that jointly solves another massive flaw in trans-continental golf.

What’s more, this might even give golf a strategic advantage on ALL other sports. Yep, you read that correctly, here’s our collective chance to shine as a sport – one big, happy, unified family.

The Presidents Cup, from its next earliest convenience on the convoluted world golf calendars, should become a mixed event.

Think about that for a second.

It redresses the International men’s team’s depth issues; it resolves the stupidity of not having a women’s International team that leaves so many of the world’s best players inactive come Solheim Cup time; and it paints golf in a modern, inclusive light that would be an ABSOLUTE smash for sponsors and television coverage.

Oh, and we might even start favourite to beat the Americans!

There, I’m feeling better already.

One stumbling block could be a lack of co-operation between the US PGA and LPGA Tours, who’ve discussed a possible shared tournament as recently as last year, but haven’t been able to find sufficient common ground. They have in decades past, but for some reason let those days slip.

Another might be straight-out sexism from the playing community. But no, nobody is going to let that happen. Surely! Surely?

Seriously, what’s stopping this? Let’s make it happen.

The format can stay largely the same, but maybe with the addition of one of each of the foursomes and fourball sessions played as mixed.

We can work out the logistics of best numbers, etc, when we get it rolling, but for now let’s say top six men and top six women from each “country” and two additional captains’ picks for each gender per team.

How good would it be to have an International team that looks something like this: So Yeon Ryu, Jason Day, Lydia Ko, Hideki Matsuyama, Shanshan Feng, Louis Oosthuizen, Inbee Park, Marc Leishman, Brooke Henderson, Branden Grace, Minjee Lee, Adam Scott, In Gee Chun, Charl Schwartzel, Ariya Jutanugarn and Jhonny Vegas???

Oh yeah! What an epic week that would be.

And see how, interestingly, the female names and rankings probably drop off less than the men’s? Fascinating, isn’t it? And I offer sincere apologies to the three or four Korean women I’ve overlooked just to spread the love around the different nations.

And imagine the future being thrown open to the next wave of young impressionable girls just contemplating taking up tennis or soccer or tiddly-winks who we’re recruiting at the rate of about 1 in a 1000 right now. Imagine that – golf looking cool to a 10-year-old girl with stars in her eyes.

Oh what the sport could become.

There. I’m pumped again now. It’s like aloe vera on that scorching burn.

Go Internationals – and Internationalettes!!!