The 2017 Presidents Cup was essentially over after the second of the four days of play. The U.S. team had won 8 of the first 10 points to take a virtually unassailable 8-2 advantage over the overmatched International team at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.
The whitewash continued over both sets of team matches on Saturday as the Americans took a 14.5 to 3.5 point stranglehold effectively ending the tournament a day early. In fairness a team that has Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger and Phil Mickelson as their 12th man is almost invincible. For the Internationals it must have felt like they were bringing sand wedges to a long driving contest.
To their credit the Internationals showed great tenacity in Sunday’s singles matches claiming 7.5 of the day’s 12 points to prevail on the day in the format that least suited them, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. For the record the Americans were 19-11 winners in the second most lop-sided margin in the history of the Presidents Cup.
Is the President’s Cup fixable?
DEPTH The International team has always been able to field world class players like Nik Price, Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama but they don’t have the depth of the Americans. So while their top 3 or 4 players can always hold their own against the American’s best, the rest of the players are outclassed by their U.S. counterparts.
NOT THE ORGINAL The biennial Presidents Cup was introduced in 1994 to be played in years that the Ryder Cup was not played. It was going to be an opportunity for all non-European players to test their mettle against the best from the U.S. Cynics might argue that it was an attempt to piggy-back on the enormous success of the Ryder Cup in the late 70’s and 80’s. Whenever something is copied though, it rarely, if ever, can compare to the original.
COMPETITION For a competition to be riveting it has to be…. competitive. With their victory this weekend, the U.S. team has now claimed its 10th win in 12 matches. The International’s team lone victory was at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 1998 and the matches ended in a tie in 2003 in South Africa. Additionally, the results are usually a foregone conclusion by the weekend’s play so really fail to hold a viewer captive.
SOUL The U.S. squad is able to draw upon a fierce and ideological passion that they are representing their country. The players feed off that patriotism and it fuels an already furtive flame. There were players from 8 different counties on tis years’ International side and while they were all proud to be representing their countries they were doing so as individuals and not a consolidated entity.
The notion of the Presidents Cup is a grand one. It is a global stage for the game and it has accomplished a great deal since its inception but it is missing the most vital ingredient in any sporting arena. It lacks the uncertainty of the outcome.