Nine Holes with the Presidents Cup

It’s no Ryder Cup, but the Presidents Cup has been a lot more competitive lately than its big sister.

ProfilesHere’s the question this week: will more people tune it to watch David Duval play in the Viking Classic or most of the top golfers in the world play the Presidents Cup? I would think it’ll be the Presidents Cup hands down. After all, Tiger’s playing (but I am pretty interested in seeing how Duval does).

The Presidents Cup is the not-quite-ugly-but-not-cute stepsister of the Ryder Cup. Back in 1993, some sharp tack at the PGA Tour realized that there were plenty of good players that were neither a) American or b) European and hence could not compete in the Ryder Cup. One year later, the Presidents Cup was launched. And the golf public yawned.

Sure, the idea of a team competition is cool, but the Presidents Cup still feels somewhat contrived. The Ryder Cup has 80 years of history behind it. It is about tradition. The Presidents Cup is about… well, yet another opportunity to make a lot of money for the Tour and the players.

The Presidents Cup seems made up as they go along. The first two events were held in the U.S. at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Then the third was held abroad. The fourth and sixth returned to RTJ, but the eighth in 2009 will be held in San Francisco. The first four events were 32-point affairs, but that changed to 34 in 2003. That same year, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player decided on the spot to call the competition a draw when light was fading on Sunday evening, the score was all tied at 17 after regulation, and three extra holes between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els failed to break the tie. That was probably the right thing to do, but it’s hard to build a tradition when the rules keep changing.

Still, the Presidents Cup does offer good viewing. It generally provides some good competition, and at the very least it’s one last chance to see the big stars before the silly season gets in full swing. Not to mention, it’s the only opportunity those of us in the U.S. have had to root the American side to victory in recent years. The U.S. side hasn’t won the Ryder Cup since 1999, but hasn’t lost since 1998 in the Presidents Cup.

The Americans have never lost at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. However, the Americans have never won on any other Presidents Cup course, and this year the event is in Canada. The Americans lead the series 4-1-1. Which side will win the 2007 Presidents Cup?

For your between-match reading enjoyment, here are nine more bits of trivia about the Presidents Cup:

Hole One
The Presidents CupThe first Presidents Cup was contested at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Virginia, Sept. 16-18, 1994. The U.S. Team, captained by Hale Irwin, trounced the David Graham-led Internationals, 20-12.

Hole Two
The Presidents Cup comprises 34 matches: 11 foursomes, 11 four ball, and 12 singles matches. Each match is worth one point.

Hole Three
There is a reason its called “The Presidents Cup.” Former U.S. President Gerald Ford was the Honorary Chairman of the first Presidents Cup as Honorary Chairman. At the 1996 competition, former President George Bush served as Honorary Chairman. In 1998, it was Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s turn. In 2000, President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to serve as Honorary Chairman. In 2003, Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, took on the role. And current U.S. President George W. Bush was the Honorary Chairman in 2005.

Hole Four
The Presidents Cup was originally held in even number years and the Ryder Cup in the odd number years. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the Ryder Cup was postponed for a year and the Presidents Cup as well. Thus, the Ryder Cup now takes place in even years and the Presidents Cup odds.

Hole Five
Designed by Dick Wilson and recently renovated by Rees Jones, the Blue Course at Royal Montreal Golf Course now plays 7,171 yards, par 70. That’s a medium-length course by Tour standards these days, but it is wood-lined and relatively tight, with small, contoured greens, which could make things interesting.

Hole Six
Celebrate U.S. VictoryJack Nicklaus (1-1-1) has captained the last two U.S. teams, the current one, and the 1998 squad. Gary Player (0-1-1) captained the last two for the Internationals. The only other captains of the Internationals were David Graham (0-1) and Peter Thomson (1-2). In addition to Nicklaus, the U.S. side has been led by Hale Irwin (1-0), Arnold Palmer(1-0), and Ken Venturi (1-0).

Hole Seven
The Presidents Cup has generated $13 million for charity through its first six editions.

Hole Eight
When the Americans host the Presidents Cup, it has always been contested at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course (that will change in 2009). The International Team first hosted the competition in December 1998 at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia. The Internationals also hosted in 2003 at the Links at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in George, South Africa. This week’s competition at Royal Montreal Golf Club, which claims to be the oldest club in North America, marks the third time the Cup has been contested outside the U.S.

Hole Nine
Jim Furyk has never lost a singles match in Presidents Cup play. He is 4-0.

Photo Credits: © AP.

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