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Punch Shot: Ultimate World Cup dream team

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The World Cup kicks off Thursday with two-man teams from across the globe. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their picks for the ultimate dream team, taking playes within the same generation.


By RANDALL MELL

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Yeah, somebody get me Hal Sutton’s cowboy hat, or maybe just a dunce cap.

Yes, I know, the idea is absolutely wacky, given the debacle after Sutton paired them together when he was captain of the American Ryder Cup team in ’04 at Oakland Hills, but Woods and Mickelson are older, wiser and mellower. I can’t think of a more compelling two-man team in the game today. They could revive the World Cup all by themselves. Really, it’s too bad the World Cup isn’t a really big deal now, something Olympic in nature, something the Americans truly needed to send their best two players to win. 

Woods and Mickelson are the faces of American golf today, and it would be riveting theater to see them united to try to win something bigger than themselves for their country.

Now that’s a World Cup I wouldn’t miss.


By JASON SOBEL

Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

My initial thought for a dream team was an obvious one: Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. But considering they teamed to win the World Cup in 1963, '64, '66 and '67, the dream was actually a reality.

Instead, give me Hogan and Nelson, who were the same age, grew up as caddies at the same course and always had a complicated relationship.

It wasn't that Hogan and Nelson didn't like each other; in fact, all accounts say that there was a mutual respect. They were two very different people, though, and maybe their dissimilarities would work well together.

Hogan won this title in 1956 alongside Sam Snead, but it's the other member of the Class of 1912 (their birth year) who would be a more intriguing choice. 


By WILL GRAY

Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Given the option to bridge a generational gap I would have gone with Ballesteros and Garcia, but watching one of the most dominant duos in Ryder Cup history once more would be a great consolation prize. From 1987-93, the two decorated Spaniards teamed to go 11-2-2 during Ryder Cup play, helping to turn the tide of the entire event in the process.

Displaying the shot-making creativity that yielded them each a pair of green jackets, Ballesteros and Olazabal would be a great draw in a team format, regardless of the venue. The chance to play for country, not just continent, would likely only enhance their performance, and an opportunity to watch the swashbuckling Ballesteros in action once again would be nothing short of memorable.


By REX HOGGARD

Maybe they don’t like each other. Maybe it’s just indifference. But personalities aside, the best one-two punch in the game is Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Hal Sutton’s failed experiment in the 2004 Ryder Cup notwithstanding, there may be other combinations that play well together but there aren’t any in the history of the game that promise so much potential.

Combined, Woods and Mickelson have 19 major victories and 121 PGA Tour triumphs, 71 victories in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play and are the first- and fourth-ranked players in the world, respectively.

But more importantly, America’s “Dream Team” has enough competitive cachet to demoralize all but the most resilient among the rest of the field. Somewhere between Woods’ power and Lefty’s short game resides the perfect tandem – the 1927 New York Yankees of modern golf.

That is, of course, if they could find a way to get along long enough to collect the trophy.

In ’04 at Oakland Hills, Sutton famously, or maybe it’s infamously, paired the two together in the Day 1 team matches and America’s dynamic duo were sent packing, first by Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in four-ball play (2 and 1) and then by Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood in foursomes (1 up).

Maybe the stars will never align for America’s stars, but that doesn’t change the fact that, at least on paper, they would be the game’s most formidable two-ball.