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The Man of the Matches

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U.S. Presidents Cup team

 
THE PRESIDENTS MEN: Before we get to Jordan, we'll start with the actual matches [with a nod to Tim Finchem]: The United States won the Presidents Cup, 19 1/2-14 1/2 at Harding Park. The victory gave the U.S. a 6-1-1 record in the biennial competition, which dates back to 1994. The Americans are a perfect 5-0 on home soil.
 
Backspin When Great Britain and Ireland were getting beat down every two years in the Ryder Cup, they invited continental Europe to join the battle. Unfortunately for the International team, they have no cavalry to call. Some say the Rest of the World needs to win to legitimize this event. Actually, being competitive would just be nice. Would you be more inclined to care about the Presidents Cup if the U.S. lost every now and again? Unless you live outside the States, the answer is probably no. Because, honestly, do you even really care if the U.S. wins? You just want to be entertained, regardless of who wins – and regular routs aren't fun to watch.

Steve Stricker

 
MR. PERFECT: Tiger Woods became the third player in Presidents Cup history [Mark O'Meara, 1996; Shigeki Maruyama, 1998] to go 5-0-0. Woods won four team matches with Steve Stricker as his partner and then punished Y.E. Yang for beating him at the PGA Championship, 6 and 5, in the Sunday singles.
 
Backspin Tiger might not lose any sleep when he plays poorly in a team event, but he still wants to win. That was evident in his reactions down the stretch Saturday evening and in the way he icily dismissed Yang in the singles. You had to feel for Y.E. Remember when Norman begged off a singles match against Woods in 1998 and then lost, 1 up? Maybe this was like a frat boy finally getting to haze someone after enduring it himself.

Phil Mickelson

 MR. ALMOST PERFECT: Tiger Woods wasn't the only U.S. team member to go undefeated. Phil Mickelson, who once went 0-5-0 in the Presidents Cup, tallied a 4-0-1 record. Unlike Woods, who had Steve Stricker has his partner in all four team sessions, Mickelson played with three different teammates over the first three days: Justin Leonard, Anthony Kim and Sean O'Hair.
 
Backspin Mickelson without a loss? Mickelson the emotional rock for his partners? Phil Mickelson? The same Phil Mickelson who tunes out golf after the August like the NFL? We kind of like this Phil Mickelson.

Michael Jordan

 
DUDE, I'M MICHAEL JORDAN: Standing at 6'6' and weighing in with six NBA championship titles, basketball legend Michael Jordan nearly overshadowed the entire Presidents Cup competition. Jordan, who was made an 'assistant-assistant' by U.S. captain Fred Couples, played a practice round with the U.S. team Monday, was asked to quit smoking on the course Tuesday, was reportedly asked by the Tour brass to not partake in the opening ceremonies Wednesday, and whizzed around  from group to group in his own golf cart Thursday-Sunday.
 
Backspin Jordan awed many, angered some and befuddled others. He said his job was to inspire and motivate the U.S. team, but it's not like they really needed inspiration or motivation to win this event. What he ultimately did was take some of the focus off the Americans and add some levity and cohesion to the team room. He may have his detractors, but Corey Pavin might want to measure him for outfits in Wales.
Camilo Villegas and Vijay Singh


 
UP STREAM WITH A PADDLE: The U.S. team's behind-the-scenes Ping-Pong matches once again made headlines. And as evidenced above, even the International players got in on the action. Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry and several others were peppered with questions about who was beating whom and who was the best. The intense table tennis matches have become the highlight of team-room camaraderie during Presidents and Ryder cup matches.
 
Backspin If the Ping-Pong matches were taped and televised at the same time as the actual Presidents Cup matches, I guarantee you the former would get the higher ratings. Golf is such a guarded sport, regarding the players' private lives, that we want any kind of glimpse we can get into what they do outside the ropes or behind closed doors – even if it's with red, rubber paddles and a yellow ball.

Greg Norman and Fred Couples

 
HEY, SKIPPER: Fred Couples captained the United States to victory over Greg Norman's International team. It was the first time either man had been at the helm in a Presidents Cup. Couples participated as a player four times, going 9-5-2. Norman played three times, with a 7-6-1 record.
 
Backspin Norman could serve as captain again as the teams square off in 2011 in Australia, where the Internationals won their only cup in 1998. Couples, meanwhile, might make for a regular U.S. skipper. He might not be best suited for Ryder Cup formality, but he seemed to be a perfect fit for the Friday casual Presidents Cup.

Adam Scott


 
NOT EASY TO WATCH: Each captain had one of their wildcard selections impress, while the other pick panned. Hunter Mahan went 2-1-1 for the U.S. side, while U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover went 0-3-1. For the Internationals, 18-year-old rookie Ryo Ishikawa went 3-2-0 with veteran Adam Scott going 1-4-0.
 
Backspin The American picks were never scrutinized, but the International selections were definitely on the hot seat. Ishikawa validated his spot on the team and showed this may be the first of many Presidents Cup appearances. Scott, on the other hand, not only lost four times, but looked like a beaten man. Not even a little help from a partner could snap Scott out of his funk.

Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby


 
BIG SHOES TO FILL: After falling to Anthony Kim in the Sunday singles, 5 and 3, Robert Allenby took a swipe at his 24-year-old opponent, calling him the 'current John Daly.' Allenby says friends of his spotted Kim 'come in sideways' at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, less than 6 hours before their tee time. Kim denied the accusations, calling Allenby's statements 'absolutely false.'
 
Backspin First of all, it doesn't say much for Allenby that he got smoked by a guy whom he believes got snockered the night before. Secondly, why would he make these statement to the press based on hearsay? And finally, even if Kim does have a love of late-night partying, what is it of Allenby's business? We're quite sure Allenby didn't make the above statements because he's concerned about a friend.

Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods

 
WELCOME TO THE OLYMPICS: Golf was added to the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday. The sport last participated in Games in 1904. The format will consist of 72-holes of stroke-play for men and women, with 60 players in each field.
 
Backspin As Rex Hoggard pointed out, there are still plenty of hurdles to clear to make golf a successful Olympic sport. But one thing people seem to be forgetting is that the Rio de Janeiro games are still seven years away. By then Tiger Woods will be 40; Phil Mickelson 46; Padraig Harrington, who lobbied hard for golf's participation, nearly 45. Who knows what will become of the current crop of players in their 20s and early 30s? The point being: the best players in the world today, on both the men's and women's side, may not be the best players in seven year's time. The re-introduction of golf into the Olympics could be the initial introduction of a lot of fresh faces to the world.
Ross McGowan


 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  England's Ross McGowan won his first European Tour event at the Madrid Masters. ... Christopher Baryla won his first Nationwide Tour event at the Chattanooga Classic. ... Nathan Smith won his second U.S. Mid-Amateur title. ... Martha Stacy Leach won the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title.
 
Backspin McGowan used a Saturday 60 to launch him to victory. ... The Canadian moved from 57th to 20th on the season money list, with the top 25 getting 2010 PGA Tour cards. ... Smith also won in 2003. ... Leach is the sister of three-time U.S. Women's Open champion Hollis Stacy.