The Presidents Cup is more like the Ryder Cup used to be… a friendly competition where international golfers can showcase their abilities devoid of the “we’re No. 1″ mania that has stricken the Ryder Cup. It’s also quite lopsided.
In 1977, Jack Nicklaus suggested that perhaps the continent of Europe should be added to the Great Britain and Ireland side to make the competition more fair. Prior to that, the Americans almost always won, often by lopsided margins. The inclusion of Europe made the Ryder Cup what it is today. This was, as we’ll see, a little bittersweet.
It’s true that the Ryder Cup is a far superior competition, but it has become more than what was intended or what Jack had in mind. It’s all well and good to root for the home team, but when flag waving dominates the contest, it demeans golf. Since the infamous “War at the Shore” in 1991, the Ryder Cup has become far too serious an affair for its own good. Booing opponents and name calling is not what our game is about. And while it used to represent a spirited, yet congenial event, it got lost along the way.
Can you imagine Patrick Reed giving Sergio a 3-footer to halve the entire event on Sunday? Crazy right? Well, that’s just what Jack Nicklaus did in the 1969 Ryder Cup in his match against Tony Jacklin.
“I knew you wouldn’t have missed that, but under the circumstances, I wasn’t going to give you that opportunity,” Nicklaus says he told Jacklin as they shook hands leaving the green.
That would be unthinkable in today’s competition. But, of course, Jack Nicklaus is the rare exception to many things; he’s the greatest winner AND the greatest loser in sports… maybe ever!
The Presidents Cup, on the other hand, has the feeling of the Ryder Cup of long ago. Yes, the teams play hard and it’s a great show, but it’s without the bitterness that seems to pervade the Ryder Cup. That’s said, I don’t think the contest is competitive enough. Not in spirit, but for whatever reason, it has become a one-sided affair, almost a foregone conclusion, like the first 50 years of the Ryder Cup. It raises money for charity and gives us another week to watch some of the best players in the world, but it needs a format or restructuring of teams to make it a world-class event. An event that is effectively closed out on Saturday needs serious consideration.
Personally, I’m less concerned with country and care more about good golf. I want to see grueling matches come down to the wire and have the result decided on the penultimate or final match, regardless of the outcome or nation they represent. I also want to see the players shake hands and go have a beer after they’ve left everything on the course. I’m not getting that from the Presidents Cup.
I love the congeniality… I just don’t see a level playing field here. Do you?