The PGA Tour has taken a page out of the USGA’S book and selected a truly public golf course for The Presidents Cup matches. Harding Park in San Francisco, California has been given an expensive face lift and despite some issues with the greens earlier this season, the course is ready for the USA and International teams. Harding Park has a rich history and claims Byron Nelson, Ken Venturi and Tiger Woods as past champions. The course and the format, with its match play style would appear to be custom made for Tiger Woods and his reputation as a match play specialist.
Tiger Woods came into the pro ranks with a deserved reputation as a match play assassin. After winning three consecutive US Junior Amateurs and three consecutive US Amateurs, Woods match play record as an amateur finished at an incomprehensible 43-4 in USGA events. While Tiger has continued his domination in the professional ranks his record in team events has not been as impressive.
For those that are thinking that Tiger has dominated during team events an examination of Tiger’s team record could be shocking. In five appearances in The Presidents Cup Woods has an overall record of 13-11-1, hardly dominating. In The Ryder Cup his record is a mediocre 10-13-2 for a combined team record of 23-24-3. In The President Cup, Woods best format is the Foursomes (alternate shot) where he has a 7-2-1. In Fourball (better ball) he is a dismal 3-7 and in singles, where he could be expected to dominate, he is only 3-2. He has lost his last two singles matches to Mike Weir and Retief Goosen.
If you are looking for the American stud in single matches, try Jim Furyk. He has a 4-1 singles record. Furyk’s overall record is slightly better than Woods at 13-8-2.
There are some theories as to why some players thrive in a team format and some players struggle. The nature of golf being such an individual sport could be one reason. Players having to depend on a partner for the outcome and sometimes losing and winning could be just a matter of the luck of the draw.
With more players holding a higher world ranking, Woods and the USA Team appear to be the favorite at this year’s President Cup. Woods will be looking for another team victory and to improve his own team record. With a win at Harding Park already and a little local knowledge of the course and if he is still as sharp as he was during The FedEx Cup, Woods could be poised to be this year’s stud. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Woods carried his partners and his team to a victory. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s singles match to see if Tiger can turn on that match play expertise again. There’s something special about Woods and another stud going at it head to head.