Does the Presidents Cup need fixing?

By Jason SobelNovember 22, 2011, 1:00 pm

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

We can all agree on that, right? We’re all in accordance on the basic premise that if something is without issue, it need not be altered?

OK, good. Now comes the hard part, trying to figure out an answer to this question: Is the Presidents Cup broken?

This is a pertinent query for one lone reason. Since the competition commenced in 1994, it has been fraught with American domination, as the guys in red, white and blue own a 7-1-1 record, their only defeat coming 13 years ago.

And so once again the floodgates have opened. Observers are proffering suggestions in an attempt to shift this balance of power less in favor of the United States side.

While the rivalry has all the one-sidedness of a duel between hammer and nail, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an issue with the basic premise. It just means – and yes, I’ve concluded this after careful examination and analysis – that one team has been better than the other.

And what’s wrong with that? Since when are the rules of athletic competitions adjusted simply to provide more equality between the two sides?

If this were the main objective, the PGA Tour could have the dozen members of both teams crowd around a coin toss to determine the biennial champion. Silly? Of course. But hey, each side would have a 50-50 chance of winning.

This shouldn’t come as a shocker, but U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Greg Norman differed on their views of this topic following the Americans’ 19-15 win at Royal Melbourne this past weekend.

“I was asked as soon as I walked into the team cabin tonight, ‘Could you please put down your bullet points of suggestions on what you think?’ I go, ‘OK, I'm going to give you two right now so I don't forget,’” Norman said after the event ended on Sunday. “I don't think you should start foursome, four-ball, foursome, four-ball. I think it should be the host nation's opportunity to dictate how the format is played. … I also think the International team captain should have four picks, not two.

“The base of golfers that the International team comes from, outside of Europe [is] about 300 million strong, population-wise. The captain has a much more diverse cross-section of a base of golfers to go to. And we don't get to play week-in, week-out like the Americans do with the Americans all the time.”

Granted, the Shark’s ideas fall into the category of internal tweaks rather than major overhauls, but the reasoning behind them remains. We’re not winning, so we need to change the rules in order to help us win. That rationale sounds less like an explanation than an excuse. If the International team had won the most recent edition of this competition under the exact same guidelines, such suggestions almost certainly wouldn’t have surfaced.

Producing alterations to a team competition is hardly a new maneuver. In 1973, organizers of the Ryder Cup first allowed players from Ireland to compete alongside those of Great Britain; six years later, based largely on the advice of Jack Nicklaus, the team was expanded to include players from Continental Europe, as well.

For his part, Couples wasn’t buying the idea that changes need to be incurred, only that further opportunities for the International team could result in greater performances.

“They may need to find other players to play. That's pretty simple,” the U.S. captain explained. “The Internationals need to go play another format somewhere. We play in the Ryder Cup and we play in the Presidents Cup. So do we have an advantage by playing alternate-shot? I couldn't argue that more. Greg's guys very rarely do it.

“But you know, in years coming up, maybe they will have another tournament where they play an alternate-shot or whatever. I'm not picking on Greg at any given time, but our guys are polished players - they are lucky enough, all of these guys, [to] have played on Ryder Cup teams and the Bill Haases and Webb Simpsons and Nick Watneys are going to be on Ryder Cup teams and Presidents Cup teams, and that's an advantage, no doubt.”

The consternation over the conversation all stems back to that one question: Is the Presidents Cup broken? Predictably, the Americans say no, while the Internationals contend yes. Until each side comes to agreement on the issue, neither side will know whether – or how – to fix it.

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.

Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Sources: Woods returning to Wells Fargo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods is expected to return to competition at next week's Wells Fargo Championship, according to multiple Golf Channel sources. The news of Woods' participation was first reported Thursday on "Golf Central."

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to officially commit to next week's field. When reached for comment by, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, explained that Woods' plans were not yet finalized.

"We don't know right now (if Woods will play)," Steinberg said. "We'll know later this afternoon. We're working on a couple things."

A trip to Charlotte would be another sign that the 42-year-old is ready to return to a customary schedule, as next week's event would be followed by Woods' expected return to The Players for the first time since 2015. Woods has already committed to the U.S. Open, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major victory.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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USGA receives more than 9,000 U.S. Open entries

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

The field of contestants for golf's most democratic major has been set.

The USGA announced that it received 9,049 entries for this year's U.S. Open, with the deadline for entry expiring at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. That total includes 515 applications on the final day, 115 in the final hour and a buzzer-beater from Drew Caudill, a 32-year-old pro from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who beat the entry deadline by only 23 seconds.

This marks the seventh straight year that the USGA has received more than 9,000 entries, but the total marks the second straight year of a decline in applications. At least 9,860 players entered each year from 2013-16, topping out in 2014 when 10,127 applications were received. But last year there were 9,485 entries for Erin Hills, and this year's return to Shinnecock yielded only one more application than the USGA got in 2005.

For the vast majority of entrants, the next step is a spot in 18-hole local qualifying which begins April 30 and runs through May 17. The fortunate few advance from there to 36-hole sectional qualifiers, played May 21 in Japan and June 4 across 11 other sites in the U.S. and England.

A total of 54 players are already exempt into the 156-man field, including 12 former winners. The only remaining ways to earn an exemption from qualifying are to win either The Players or BMW PGA Championship next month, or be ranked inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the event for the first time since 2004.

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Report: Houston Open may move to Memorial Park in '19

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

Still without a permanent spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Houston Open appears to be on the move.

According to a report from the Houston Business Journal, there is a proposal in place to shift the tournament downtown in 2019, returning to Memorial Park Golf Course which previously hosted the event from 1951-1963.

While formal relocation plans have not been announced, the tournament officially reached the end of an era this week when the Golf Club of Houston, which has hosted the event since 2003, informed the Houston Golf Association that it would no longer serve as tournament host moving forward.

"We received notice this week from the Golf Club of Houston regarding the club's decision to no longer host a PGA Tour event," read an HGA statement obtained by "Currently, the HGA's focus is on securing a long-term title sponsor. The Golf Club of Houston has been a great venue for the Houston Open dating back to 2003 and we look forward to maintaining a great relationship with the club."

Such a move would be a win for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who has expressed an interest in returning the tournament within city limits. The Golf Club of Houston is located in Humble, a suburb 20 miles northeast of downtown.

"This move would place the tournament on center stage in downtown Houston, creating a central location for the city to rally around," read marketing materials cited in the Business Journal report. "Houston Proud Partners of the Houston Open would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Houston Golf Association on this historic move and make a lasting statement that would be seen for generations."

The Houston Open's lineage dates back to 1946, but its future remains in question. Shell Oil ended its 26-year sponsorship of the event in 2017, and this year it was played without a title sponsor and financed in part by the HGA.

The tournament has also carved out a niche with its pre-Masters slot on the schedule, where it has been played every year but once since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. But next year that coveted position will go to the Valero Texas Open, leaving Houston's place on a revamped 2019 schedule in question.

The Houston Open remains one of only two tournaments on the current Tour calendar without a title sponsor. Earlier this week Charles Schwab signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019, and a report this week indicates the other unsponsored event, The National, may be on the verge of moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Detroit.