When Tiger Woods and his star-studded U.S. team take the field later this week at Muirfield Village for the 10th playing of the Presidents Cup, they’ll be putting their six-game winning streak on the line in a bitter rivalry so steeped in tradition that ... zzzzzzzz
Sorry, where were we? Right, waiting in exquisite anticipation of the "good show or display of golf" that Phil Mickelson expects will break out between his U.S. squad and the top players from the global village of non-Europe.
"The tournament is about promoting the game of golf on an international level," Mickelson said about a worthy cause that’s also a biennial clash about as lop-sided a "rivalry" as pitting a milquetoast chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin against the world of drug cartels, the DEA, and creepy Todd Alquist and his band of neo-Nazis.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a pleasant exhibition of the game in which the top players from everywhere but Europe display their vast talents. Except that Adam Scott believes his team needs to muscle its way into the winner’s column if the decaf version of the Ryder Cup is to remain viable.
And, unlike Walter White and many of his enemies (spoiler alert), Scott’s multi-country unit, despite going winless since 1998, still has a chance to breathe some life into the worldwide Tavistock Cup-like event.
"The Internationals need to step up and win the thing and make it a real competition," Scott, competing in his sixth Presidents Cup, said in a promo video. "I'm getting tired of getting killed out there. This is a big year for us. It's our time."
Scott, the reigning Masters champ and finalist for PGA Tour Player of the Year, will lead his mates into this week’s bout against the Americans, who hold a lofty 7-1-1 advantage in the duels. Nick Price captains the International dozen, who, in addition to Scott, include elder statesman and four-time major champion Ernie Els and Masters runner-up Angel Cabrera.
The edge definitely goes to U.S. skipper Fred Couples and his 12 heavy hitters, who, with the likes of Woods, Mickelson, and rookie phenom Jordan Spieth, will play a home game in Dublin, Ohio.
The showdown, which starts Thursday, involves 11 foursome (alternate shot) and 11 four-ball matches over three days, with Sunday’s finale featuring 12 singles games. Each match is worth one point, with a total of 34 points up for grabs.
With no playoffs for foursomes or four-balls, each team earns 1/2 point for a match that ends all-square, though singles matches that are even after 18 holes go into overtime. A tie at the end of all play results in both teams sharing bragging rights for the cup.
Woods, who shines as brightly in Prez Cup play (he owns a career 20-14-1 record in seven previous PC starts) as his competitive edge dims in the Ryder Cup (13-17-3), views the upcoming meet a tad differently from Scott.
"We like the way it's gone," he said following the Tour Championship, "and we'd like to keep it going that way."
To Mickelson, the only member of either team who has suited up for all of the preceding Presidents Cups, it’s not about who survives the showdown but how you play the game.
"Who loses and by how much isn’t as important as having the guys get together in a competitive, friendly environment, put on a good show or display of golf and have some fun doing it," averred the diplomatic southpaw.
All well and good, but Scott believes if the games don’t stop breaking bad for his side, the future of the matches may be as bleak as Lydia’s.
"I think it's crucial. We have to win this year," Scott, a six-time Presidents Cup competitor, said to AFP’s Jim Slater. "The Cup loses any credibility whatsoever if [the Internationals] don't start winning soon."