welcomes visitors to Harding Park Golf Course in San
Francisco. The Presidents Cup golf tournament between the
U.S. and International teams is scheduled to be played from
played Oct. 8-11 at Harding Park.
Even at a relatively young age, the
Presidents Cup does not lack for moments that reveal the passion and
pressure when the best golfers in the world put the flag ahead of
the bank account.
Tiger Woods could barely see the hole
in the darkness of South Africa when he made a 15-foot par putt in a
playoff against Ernie Els that broke two directions. He called it
"one of the biggest putts in my life," and "one of
the most nerve-racking moments I've ever had in golf." Usually,
such talk is reserved for the majors.
For emotion, look no further than
Chris DiMarco making the winning putt and charging into the arms of
captain Jack Nicklaus, or Nick Price — as fine a gentleman as golf
has known — snapping a putter over his knee when he missed a putt
to lose on the final hole.
Fred Couples never showed more
exuberance than the time he made a 20-foot birdie on the last hole
to beat Vijay Singh.
And while the International flag
represents countries from all continents except Europe, Mike Weir
faced enormous expectations and a Maple Leaf at every turn when he
played on home soil in Canada against the world's best player. He
won the last two holes to beat Woods, which came with a cheer so
loud that captain Gary Player said it could be heard "all the
way to Kansas City."
In 15 years of these biennial
matches, there is no shortage of highlights.
What the Presidents Cup lacks is
The Americans already lead the series
5-1-1. They have never lost on home soil, and will have a chance to
keep that record perfect when the eighth edition of these matches is
played Oct. 8-11 at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco.
The only time the International team
won was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, held so late in the
year that some of the Americans spent more time Christmas shopping
online. At least that was their excuse.
The players are just as good, if not
better, than at the Ryder Cup. Each team at Harding Park has seven
major champions (with 35 majors among them). Europe's team from last
year's Ryder Cup had only one major winner.
Of the 24 players at the Presidents
Cup, 18 are among the top 30 in the world ranking.
Even so, perhaps the best Ryder Cup
comparison is from the early days of the competition, which was
clearly a red, white and blue affair.
"We need to win," Geoff
Ogilvy of Australia said. "It's going to take the International
team winning a few times to annoy the U.S., to get them geared up
like they are in the Ryder Cup."
No one can explain why these matches
have been so one-sided.
This will be the fifth time that the
Presidents Cup is held in the United States, although that shouldn't
matter because all but three players on the International team have
homes in America, and all but one player — Ryo Ishikawa — is a PGA
"The Presidents Cup is like
playing with your buddies," Kenny Perry said. "The
International squad is like the guys we play with week in and week
out here. We know each other, we're all good friends. A lot of
barbing, jabbing going on out there. And it's really fun."
The International team has been
favored on paper for much of this decade, although the only time it
could claim even a half-victory was when the matches ended in that
famous tie in South Africa.
Last time in Royal Montreal, the
International team did not win any of the 11 foursomes matches and
was seven points behind going into the final day of singles, which
turned out to be a formality except for Weir beating Woods.
The big change this year is the
captains. After three straight tournaments led by Nicklaus and
Player, Couples will be leading the U.S. team, while Greg Norman is
captain of the International side.
Couples has lived up to expectations
— he has kept everyone loose, he doesn't answer his phone (mainly
text messages), and he has asked basketball great Michael Jordan to
be one of his assistant captains.
Norman has been a surprise, mostly
with his captain's picks.
He selected Ishikawa, an 18-year-old
sensation from Japan who becomes the youngest player in Presidents
Cup history. Ishikawa has won four times this year, and his
appearance already has added close to 100 requests for media
The stunning pick was Adam Scott, who
has fallen out of the top 50 because of a mysterious slump that has
put him 101st on the PGA Tour money
list. Scott was planning for maintenance surgery on his knee when
Norman gave him the good news.
"I think he's got a lot of
pressure on him," Els said. "From us, we will support him.
I know I will, and I know Greg will. But he's going to be under the
spotlight a little bit. But you know, this is maybe something he
Camilo Villegas, Ishikawa and PGA
champion Y.E. Yang are newcomers to the Presidents Cup, while the
American rookies are Sean O'Hair and Anthony Kim, who energized the
U.S. team last September at the Ryder Cup.
The Americans are considered the
favorites, based on recent history and world rankings.
It has the current version of the
"Big Three" — Woods, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker,
not only ranked Nos. 1-2-3, but winners of the last three playoff
events on the PGA Tour. It has five of
the top 10 players in the world, and it's lowest-ranked player is
Justin Leonard at No. 37.
Ogilvy at No. 10 is the only
International player in the top 10, and seven of his teammates have
failed to win this year — Els, Villegas, Scott, Weir, Vijay Singh,
Robert Allenby and Tim Clark.
"Maybe this time we'll be more
relaxed and pull it off," Retief Goosen said.
Ogilvy had just turned professional
in 1998 when he took a shortcut from his house near Royal Melbourne,
hopped the fence and watched the Presidents Cup. There was something
about those matches that has since been missing from the
competition, starting with the International blue on the scoreboard.
"When it was in Australia, the
International team looked like the winner even after nine
holes," Ogilvy said. "I said to Greg, 'Whatever you had
going on at Royal Melbourne, whatever that thing is, you've got to
find it.' It's not about the individual, it's about how bad the team
wants to win."
The International team is desperate
for a win. The Presidents Cup as a whole could use such a victory,