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Monday, October 7, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Presidents Cup

Winner: USA, 18.5-15.5

Around the wider world of golf: Continental Europe beat GB&I 15-13 in the ET's Seve Cup; Shanshan Feng won the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic (the Constructivist has a wrap-up on it here); and Mika Miyazato won the Japan Women's Open on the JLPGA. (Surprise -- the Constructivist has a wrap-up of this event also!)

The winning US Team with Jack Nicklaus

It wasn't really a surprise that the US Team won the Presidents Cup. All we heard the entire week was how the International Team was an underdog and the numbers were against them.

But on Saturday night Brandel Chamblee said something that I had also been thinking about. It took several decades for the European Ryder Cup Team to finally become competitive on a consistent basis, and the International Presidents Cup Team has only been at it for a couple of decades. I think there's a lot of truth in that.

The Euro Ryder Cuppers needed to have the blend of competitors changed (from just GB&I to Continental Europe) and then needed a couple of Cups to get their chemistry down. The International Presidents Cuppers have to figure out a way to blend several different cultures (and languages), plus figure some way to get them together more often. For example, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley probably average 3 rounds together every couple of months. The full International team hadn't even been all together in one place until Monday!

However, all is not bright in the American teamroom. The US team only needed 4 points to win Sunday... and barely managed 4.5 points. The US team clearly dealt with the rain delays better than the Internationals early on; in 2 of the team sessions, the Internationals led EVERY match until those sessions were interrupted and the US turned them into routs.

But while the US team dealt with them better in the team sessions, the Internationals clearly did it better in the singles. Fred Couples rightly noted that 3 of the 4 full points they won in singles came from players they rested Saturday -- Mahan, Dufner, and Johnson. The winning point (as it has in the last 2 Cups) came from Tiger Woods, despite back problems clearly aggravated by dampness and fatigue. Had Oosthuizen been in better condition (so Schwartzel didn't have to carry their team so much), and had De Jonge and Matsuyama been more experienced in team play (hence making better strategic decisions in singles), this could have been quite a different story.

This Presidents Cup was much closer than the final score indicates... and unless the US Team figures out what is causing this lapse in their play during singles in both Cups, the next Presidents Cup may be a rude awakening.

But I'll give you a hint at what I think the problem is. Here's the scoring page, where you can access the individual scores of each match. If you take a quick look, you'll find that the International players generally lost holes when they made par and the US made birdies... but the US frequently lost holes when they made bogey and the Internationals made par. It doesn't take a genius to do the math.

Nevertheless, this week's Limerick Summary salutes the US Presidents Cup team for sending Freddie Couples out with a winning record. (Freddie said he won't be captaining the next team in Korea.) A win is a win, after all, and they certainly won this one the hard way!
In some ways, this match was decided
By rain and was not as lopsided
As the score may appear.
Though the Cup will stay here,
The US must feel a bit chided.
The photo came from the main page at presidentscup.com.

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