by Jeff Skinner
The 2013 Presidents Cup has been both praised and maligned this past week. Some said it lacked drama while others claimed it was the best ever. For me it was somewhere in between. This was my first Presidents Cup and I was there from the opening handshakes with Jack Nicklaus and President Bush to the high fives and songs with the International Fanatics. Some of it was great and some not so great. Some was wet and some wasn’t, but all of it was fun.
1. After two years of trying to get to Jack’s Place I wasn’t disappointed with anything about Muirfield Village. The course itself is a living work of art and while I normally am not a fan of “real estate courses” the homes don’t intrude on the course and some are just absolutely breathtaking.
2. Of course the biggest negative of the week was the weather. It rained so hard so often and delayed play so much everyone had an issue with it. From the fans to the players it was a real pain in the ass. I bet Jack has his maintenance crews working overtime to get that course back in shape. 35,000 fans tromping through the mud left Muirfield a real mess.
3. Both the USA and the Internationals played wonderful golf all week. Yes, there were some wayward shots but generally the level of was of the highest level. In addition, these players displayed true sportsmanship at every turn. It’s easy for Team USA to look poised on home turf but the Internationals did suffer some heckling but always acted with composure and sportsmanship.
4. The people of Columbus certainly love their golf and they are a friendly bunch. Sure, I heard some knuckleheads screaming as players hit their tee ball and even some cheering for poor shots by Internationals but I toss that up to over served goof balls that are there for the party and not the golf.
5. I spent some time trying to soak up some local culture and the first thing I realized was that Ohio State trumps everything. From the Browns, the Bengals, golf and even Jack Nicklaus himself…Ohio State rules all. And if you are going to spend any time there you better get used to it. O-H-I-O!!!!!!
6. The USA Team looked stacked going in and they played well. Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar are the “it” team now. Woods thrived with him and Kuch is one of the few players that can keep it light with Tiger and still perform. Jordan Spieth showed he may have a chance to be on Prez and Ryder Cup teams for the next twenty five years. Jason Dufner proved what a stud he is, no matter the format. For the most part this team played very well and all of them will be in contention for next year’s Ryder Cup.
7. The Internationals put up a good fight against an overpowering American Team. Jason Day and Gram DeLaet were the studs and Brendon de Jonge looks like a real player for the future. Ernie Els and Adam Scot played well but spent their matches trying to play and mentor at the same time. Captain Nick Price did well to field a competitive team despite the stacked American team.
8. The Presidents Cup format differs slightly from the Ryder Cup and I am sure it was designed that way by the PGA Tour to differentiate it from the more popular Ryder Cup. But it could use some tweaking. Four days of matches, while great for revenue, may be a bit too much for players who are running on fumes this time of year. Each and every cup the USA presents a powerful team against an International Team that is over matched. Reducing the number of matches would help make the entire match more competitive. I do like the way the teams are selected with captains going face to face instead of the blind draw used in the Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour should recognize that some slight changes may just make their product more interesting.
9. Watching one of these team events is very different from a regular tour event or a major championship. Until Sunday there are only six matches at the most on the course. So that means 35,000 fans are crammed around those holes vying for choice viewing spots. We employed our “Tiger Strategy:” find a good spot and let the players come to us. But that still means there is plenty of down time. But thanks to the portable Fan Vision televisions where you are able to watch the live telecast we are able to keep up with play. Watching the players’ wives and girlfriends make their way around the course wasn’t bad either. Team USA wins the WAG competition with Duf’s wife, Amanda leading the entire field as hottest WAG.
10. These biannual team matches are always exciting but at the same time over hyped. Right now, the Presidents Cup doesn’t match up with the intensity and popularity of the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup has history and tradition on its side and is a truly competitive event. While I do believe the nationalism shown at The Ryder Cup is insane I still think it is a better competition. The President Cup is less intense and I think the lower intensity allows the players to be more relaxed and the event comes off with more of an exhibition feel. Sportsmanship, goodwill and friendship are more prevalent at The Presidents Cup and that’s a good thing. As long as the USA continues its dominance over the Internationals the Presidents Cup will remain a true exhibition and not a competition. Maybe that’s the way the PGA Tour likes it.