Presidents Cup a lot like The Players

By Doug FergusonOctober 2, 2013, 12:56 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – The Presidents Cup is a lot like The Players Championship. No one really talks about it until it's time to play. And too much time is spent comparing it with something it will never be instead of enjoying it for what it is.

At least no one can joke the Presidents Cup is match play between the United States and Florida.

This year, only four players on this International team have homes in Florida. One lives in North Carolina, one in Virginia, another in Idaho. And it's a home game for Jason Day of Australia, who lives about 10 miles away in Westerville and is an honorary member at Muirfield Village.

But it has nothing to do with where these guys live or where they play. Remember, the most recent Ryder Cup at Medinah was a home game for Luke Donald of England. And only two players from Europe's team are not PGA Tour members.

The Presidents Cup can never equal the passion, pride and excessive hype of the Ryder Cup, just like The Players Championship can have all the trappings of a major championship without ever being considered one. Those vested in the Presidents Cup – mainly anyone who works for the PGA Tour – will argue that it's only a matter of time. No one paid that much attention to the Ryder Cup when it was first starting out. Now it rivals the Masters as must-see TV.

That's missing the point.

Europe has a real flag, not one that someone designed exclusively for a golf tournament.

More than playing for a flag, Europe plays for its tour. Padraig Harrington said it best a decade ago when he referred to the European Tour as the ''country cousin'' of the PGA Tour. It's not as big, not as rich, not as popular. They have something to prove one week every two years. It's the success of the Ryder Cup – and that success comes from beating up on the Americans every other year – that pumps much-needed money into the European Tour.

Golf fans from European countries build their year-round travel to the Ryder Cup, home and away. The International team comes from Argentina and Japan, South Africa and Australia. The biggest draw this week in Ohio might be Graham DeLaet of Canada, a proud golf nation and not terribly far away from central Ohio.


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''We are going to have a lot of support from the Canadians, and I think we're going to have a lot of people down here from Canada in the next four or five days, so good for him,'' International captain Nick Price said.

Safe to say there hasn't been a big rush for tickets from Zimbabwe. Or Argentina.

So why bother with the Presidents Cup?

Mainly because it's an opportunity, and that should be enough.

''When we started out with the Presidents Cup, the initial guys – myself, Greg (Norman) and Ernie (Els) – we so enjoyed watching the Ryder Cup and so wanted to be a part of the Ryder Cup-type format,'' Price said. ''And then the Presidents Cup came along, and that was fantastic.''

Go back two decades to the start of these matches, and it might explain the value of the Presidents Cup – and perhaps why it has lost some steam in recent years.

The biggest stars outside of America in the mid-1990s weren't from Europe, but from other parts of the globe. Norman was the biggest draw in golf. Price won three majors and was No. 1 in the world. Els won his first U.S. Open at 24 and was referred to by Curtis Strange as ''the next guy.''

International players not eligible for the Ryder Cup won majors in all but two seasons during the 1990s.

The only big stars from Europe when the Presidents Cup began in 1994 were Jose Maria Olazabal (when healthy) and Colin Montgomerie. Yes, Nick Faldo won his sixth major in 1996, but that was his last big moment. Europe got its due at the Ryder Cup. And these days, Europe has the best of both – the Ryder Cup and some of the top stars. Just two years ago, the season ended with Europeans occupying the top four spots in the world ranking.

Maybe that's why it's hard to get worked up over this Presidents Cup. Masters champion Adam Scott has emerged as a global star. No other player on the International team is ranked among the top 15.

It wouldn't hurt if the International team won the Presidents Cup this year to at least make it look like a contest. The last three have been blowouts, and the Americans' only loss in this ''competition'' was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne. It certainly would help for the matches to be close.

''We don't like getting beaten,'' Price said. ''This is – to all of us, I think – it's a really big week.''

Would it change the interest level worldwide? Not much as people might think.

It's still an exhibition between the best players in the world outside of Europe. It's team match play, the most engaging format in golf. It can be fun. It can be intense – Price once snapped a putter over his knee after losing a match on the 18th hole. It's still a great week of golf.

And that's all it needs to be worth playing.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.