No, its not because he thinks the European players are that much superior to the Americans. That problem would eventually fix itself and the talent from the two continents would level out. But this problem will not go away, regardless of how much the Americans want it to.
I think the Presidents Cup is killing the Ryder Cup, Kite said firmly. I really do I think its really difficult for the U.S. team right now.
The Presidents Cup, of course, is the PGA Tours biennial competition matching a U.S. team against an international team, meaning the rest of the world minus Europe. Played in the years in which there isnt a Ryder Cup, its a relative newcomer, only in existence since 1994.
Kite played in seven Ryder Cups, stretching from 79 to 93. He would have played in twice that many international competitions if the Presidents Cup had been in existence. He believes that expecting the Americans to participate in a match every year is persistently draining their enthusiasm.
Thats a lot to ask ' especially when the other team (Europe) gets rejuvenated, he said. They have the opportunity to get refreshed, not have it for a year.
This years lopsided affair was a perfect example. I see the enthusiasm among the guys who have not played in many past Ryder Cups or Presidents Cups, he says. You see it in Chris DiMarco, Chris Riley, even Jay Haas. But you just dont see the same enthusiasm in the guys who did it just 12 months before. Twelve months before that they did it, and 12 months before that and 12 months before that.
Kite, now 55 and a standout on the Champions Tour, realizes that the competitions occupy only one week of the players time a year. But there is one key difference ' for Europe its only once every two years. That, he believes, is a major difference. The opportunity to represent your country is a huge honor, he says, but coming every year as it does, its diluted a little.
I remember reading a quote from Nick Faldo and somebody asked him if he wasnt disappointed that he wasnt going to play in the Presidents Cup, remembered Kite. He said, Youve got to be kidding! I need two years to recover from this!
Kite confesses that he doesnt know an answer. He isnt even certain that the Presidents Cup theory is the real reason for the losses that had piled up in a depressing succession. He cant be certain that one week a year is too much ' unless your opponent isnt expected to do the same thing.
BUT ' I keep going back to the fact of, When did we start getting beat? Prior to that time it was a pretty even competition. You had the Fab Five over there in Europe from 83 and to about 91 or 93.
When did we start getting it handed to us on a platter? In 95. When did the Presidents Cup start? In 94.
In 95, the steady drumbeat of losses began. Last weeks setback ran Europes winning ratio to four in five, with the only American success coming in 1999 at Brookline after the U.S. rallied on Sunday to take the singles competition, 8 - 3 . It came that close to being five European victories over the last five Ryder Cups.
Of course, that is around the time that the Ryder Cup became profitable. For decades it had been a losing proposition for America. But when Europe began to win from time to time in the 80s that began to change. And the PGA of America found it had a huge cash cow on its hands.
Rather by coincidence or not, the PGA Tour ' certainly no dummy when it comes to great money-making ideas ' decided that the rest of the world was entitled to play the U.S., also. Ergo - the Presidents Cup. And that idea has proven to be extremely profitable, as well.
The suggestion has been made that there be three teams ' the U.S., Europe, and the Internationals ' and that the winners of the competition be matched the following year. But its difficult to see that happening.
Why? Because if the U.S. is not involved, the event wont be nearly as profitable. A Europe vs. the Internationals match might sound like an excellent idea, but it wouldnt bring nearly the television revenue that a matchup involving the United States would. Its just that simple. And ' money is a powerful persuader.
There is one thing that may trump the dollar, though. Kite sees it happening someday, and it may be the one thing that will cause the interested parties to all sit up and take notice.
There may come a time when one of the top players stands up and says, No, Im not going to do that. I need a break, said Kite. That, he believes, will finally get the attention of all the participants.
And I hope that if and when that happens, you guys (in the media) are sensitive enough to whats going on and aware enough that you wont barbecue him.
Its going to be difficult for someone to do it for that reason alone.
Until then, he feels, get accustomed to a steady succession of Euro victories. This steady diet of end-of-year international competitions is just too much.
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