As fall fantasy golf is finished, we've crowned a FedEx Cup champion and Breaking Bad just ended, if your depressed like me don’t worry there’s a glimmer of hope before the dark cold tunnel we call winter;
The President’s Cup. The bi-annual team competition that features Team ‘Merica vs The World, the International team is comprised of players from countries outside of continental Europe. This year’s edition held on US soil at Muirfield Village with Fred Couples and Nick Price assuming the role of captains. If you've seen the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) Australians and South Africans account for a majority of the team with 8 of the 12 players respectively, for us Canadian fans we can find a sense of pride in Graham DeLaet being the lone Canuck. For the Americans you have a list of usual suspects Tiger, Phil and Stricker all highlight the team and will serve as leaders in the team room, but it’s the young guys like Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and not so young Jason Dufner that will truly make a difference.
What sets the President’s Cup apart from the Ryder Cup other than the obvious missing Euro stars is the format. The President’s Cup is made for TV with four days of competition and a possible 34 points, where the Ryder Cup is over three days for 28 total points. Which means captains can’t hide a weaker player as everyone will have to play a minimum of four matches, were as in the Ryder Cup a struggling player could potentially sit until Sundays single matches. This format could also explain the lopsided record in favor of the US (7-1-1) the Internationals have their work cut out for them this week. Recently Adam Scott was quoted stating "The Internationals need to step up and win the thing and make it a real competition, I'm getting tired of getting killed out there. This is a big year for us."
It’s not only the Internationals that will be feeling the pressure the American team has to overcome the demons from the Sunday collapse in last year’s Ryder Cup. "I feel a lot of responsibility there for not winning a point, Tiger and I not winning a point," Steve Stricker said. "The first week or two it wasn't much fun just trying to sleep, to tell you the truth.” Stricker’s poor play in the Ryder Cup caused him to drastically change his schedule this year playing less. Its worked wonders for him and he seems to be more refreshed and ready to repeat his undefeated performance from the last time the Cup was contested in the states.
The Jack Nicklaus signature course Muirfield Village Golf Club, has also hosted several national championships and international team competitions, including the 1992 U.S. Amateur, 1987 Ryder Cup, the 1998 Solheim Cup and the 1986 U.S. Junior Amateur. Muirfield Village is now the only course to host the three major international team competitions; Ryder, Solheim and President's Cup. The course plays as a par 72 at 7,386 yards. Over the last few years Jack has make some changes to add a little more excitement to the back nine, but he has said this week the course shouldn’t play much different than the summer when the PGA Tour is in town for The Memorial. But if you’re looking for which team has an advantage it would have to be the US with Stricker, Woods and Kuchar winning the Memorial the last three years, and Tiger having won here five times. Were as for the Internationals Ernie Els won here in 2004 and Jason Day lives in the area and is a member so both sides have a far bit of course knowledge.
Normally at this point I would pick potential winners and fantasy picks, this week is a different beast so I've decided to make a couple powerhouse teams I would like to see:
- Tiger Woods/Jordan Speith- Jordan has taken the world of golf by storm in the last year and I think playing him with Tiger would be good for both of them going forward and could potentially be an unstoppable combo.
- Keegan Bradley/Jason Dufner- These have become very good friends and both had good records at the Ryder Cup last year and will be future anchors for US team competitions for the next decade, it has to start somewhere.
- Graham DeLaet/Jason Day- DeLaet finished the year 1st in total driving on the PGA Tour and Day is a member here on a course where distance is needed, this team could be what the internationals need to win.
- Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama- Scott will need to prove he can lead this week if his team has any chance and teaming with the rookie star could be a lot like Keegan and Phil last year in the Ryder Cup.
The Americans are heavy favorites to retain the cup again this week and it hard not to pick them when you consider the 7-1-1 record over the history of the event. But it was at Muirfield Village in 1987 where the Europeans first won the Ryder Cup on US soil and truly sparked the competition we see today. And as scripted as sports sometimes seems to be I think it would be fitting for the President’s Cup to follow suit and become more than an exhibition with the internationals winning this week 17.5 to 16.5, coming down to Adam Scott over Tiger Woods late on Sunday. The PGA Tour and NBC could only hope for a finish that good you would have to wonder if it was written by Vince Gilligan.
Well everyone needs a little more Breaking Bad in their lives