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So what did we learn from the Presidents Cup?
The obvious thing is the U.S. beat the International Team for an eighth consecutive time, although this one in Australia will stand out from the others for various reasons, principally the come-from-behind win. Trailing 10-8 on the final day, the American squad rallied for a 16-14 victory. This was the first time the U.S. squad made a successful charge while trailing.
And it made for some great excitement.
The end result should make for an interesting Ryder Cup at Whistling Straights Golf Course in Haven, Wisconsin on September 25-27. The European squad has won six of the last 10 contests.
As far as individual highlights of the Presidents Cup, well, at the risk of being repetitive, you have to give a tip of the cap to Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) going undefeated in three matches, this time as playing captain. I can’t think of a bigger personality in golf this year than Tiger, who won the Masters for a fifth time and recorded his 15th career victory in the majors. He finished in the top-10 four times and made the cut in nine of 12 tournaments.
He was tired and likely physically ailing after the Masters and did not benefit from the truncated majors schedule implemented this year. But his victory in the ZOZO Championship in the start of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour schedule was the reason he decided to play in the Presidents Cup in addition to captaining the squad. He chose himself and made good on the selection.
The Presidents Cup will also be remembered for the caddie of the controversial Patrick Reed (Titleist Pro V1) getting booted from the tournament for a dustup with a fan. The caddie was his brother-in-law, Kessler Karain, who was suspended from the final day of action. In his previous tournament, Reed received a two-stroke penalty for twice removing sand before hitting a shot out of a bunker in the third round of the Hero World Challenge. It’s a rather casual event featuring 18 players, all of whom qualify for the 72 holes. It’s nowhere near as competitive as a sanctioned PGA Tour event, yet Reed managed to become a central figure in it. There is no question about his Reed’s ability, having won the Masters in 2018 and finishing second in the 2017 PGA Championship and fourth in the 2018 U.S. Open.
But he certainly has become the bad boy of the Tour. He was critical after the 2018 Ryder Cup of the way U.S. captain Jim Furyk (Callaway Chrome Soft) used him in the tournament.
Reed was once known as Captain America. He is now more like Captain Controversy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for golf. Every sport needs a heel.
Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) and Reed got into it in the 2016 Ryder Cup. After sinking a long birdie, McIlroy cupped a hand to one of his ears taunting the pro-American fans who booed him vociferously. After Reed sunk a putt, he held up an index finger signaling number one.
These types of tournaments are interesting because of the team concepts of the United States vs. Europe or the U.S. vs. an international team and the fans getting into it vocally. Most times the gallery is positive, especially the way the fans get into Woods with the “in the hole” responses and which has carried over to other players. Yes, sometimes it’s really rowdy and things are said that cross the line of good etiquette. But golf is not immune to the way fans become part of the story. People pay to watch and like to express their feelings. I suppose if something is said that is really over the top, fans can be ejected.
The 2018 Ryder Cup was a pivotal moment for Italy’s Francesco Molinari (Titleist Pro V1x), fresh off of his win in The Open Championship. His play on the final day of the Ryder Cup sealed the win for the Europeans. He hasn’t had near the success since, and faltered in the final round of the 2019 Masters when it contention on the final day. But there is always another tournament.
I really look forward to 2020 and what should be even more fantastic story lines.