Presidents Cup not must-win for Internationals

By Jason SobelOctober 1, 2013, 4:40 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Adam Scott has a few things going in his favor. Owns the prettiest golf swing in the world. Has a green jacket hanging in his closet. Makes women swoon at the mere mention of his name.

Yeah, life isn’t terrible for the chiseled Aussie straight out of Central Casting for a world-class golfer.

Which is why I don’t feel so bad saying this: He’s dead wrong in his assessment of the Presidents Cup.

Prior to playing in his sixth edition of the biennial event this week, Scott considered the International team’s 1-7-1 all-time record and the fact that it hasn’t won since the Clinton Administration, and proffered the following comment:

Mell: Must-win situation for International team

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'The Internationals need to step up and win the thing and make it a real competition,' he said. 'I think it's crucial. We have to win this year. The Cup loses any credibility whatsoever if we don't start winning soon.”

No offense to the reigning Masters champ, but that’s not really how it works. A competition doesn’t gain or lose credibility based solely on its winner. If Scott himself prevails at Augusta National every year for the next half-decade, the tournament won’t lose credibility. He’ll just gain tons of it.

Not to compare the Presidents Cup to the Masters, but the logic remains the same. The fact that the United States has been so dominant every other year should only serve to bolster the team’s value rather than rob the competition of credibility.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to a couple of guys who have played in a few of these things.

“It's not that important,” said Phil Mickelson on whether the International team needs to win. “Actually, the tournament is about promoting the game of golf on an international level. Who loses and by how much isn't as important as having the guys get together in a competitive, friendly environment, put on a good show or display of golf and have some fun doing it.”

“We're playing against them,” Tiger Woods added. “We like the way it's gone, and we'd like to keep it going that way.”

Therein lies the answer to Scott’s predicament. His assertion that the event could fade into obscurity is the same two-word response given to every professional golfer who has ever groused about any predicament.

Play better.

Not that Scott – nor anyone else in Camp International – is suggesting otherwise. Nobody is hinting that the U.S. team should take a knee at the 5-yard-line instead of going for the end zone.

To claim, though, that this year’s Presidents Cup – not the one played two years ago nor the one that will be played two years from now – will serve as the tipping point when it comes to credibility is awfully nearsighted.

The fact is, whether the United States wins in dominant fashion once again or the Internationals finally produce a successful encore to 1998, the event will still be played and will still garner similar interest.

What we can all agree upon, of course, is that a closely contested match is more beneficial to all parties than another blowout.

“I think all of us who have been involved in the Presidents Cup know how important this one is,” said International captain Nick Price. “I wouldn't say it's a must-win. That's a hard thing to put on anyone. But this one needs to be competitive. I think more important than anything else, this Presidents Cup needs to be very competitive, because in the past, the last four Presidents Cups, you can argue either way, but I honestly believe they have not been that competitive.”

Wise words from a wise man.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Super Bowl or Game 7 of the NBA Finals or the Presidents Cup. A down-to-the-wire nail-biter will do more for the future of any of those competitions than a one-sided vanquishing.

Maybe that will finally happen at Muirfield Village this week. This event doesn’t “need” it in order to retain self-sustenance for another two years, but it sure wouldn’t hurt.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.