Weeks: International team facing long odds at Presidents Cup

Bob Weeks
10/3/2013 9:18:12 AM
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Not many outside the International team room are giving the squad from the rest of the world much of a chance in this year's Presidents Cup and looking at the records of the 24 players involved, you can understand that stance.

On paper, it looks a little like Andre the Giant taking on a midget wrestler. It has all the makings of a rout with the Americans adding an eighth win in nine outings of this biennial event.

The Yanks have eight players in the top 15 in the world while the Internationals have just one. Every golfer wearing a U.S. uniform is inside the top 30 while only six of the Rest Of The Worlders are there.

The International team also has seven first timers while only one American golfer – Jordan Spieth – hasn't been on either a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

Maybe it's finally time to bring in the handicap system to professional golf. You know, put some saddle bags on Tiger Woods or perhaps let the Internationals play it forward.

"I mean, I understand that and how it looks on paper," said Adam Scott, the highest-ranked International player. "It's hard to write off guys who are the Top 60 in the world, because on any given day, anyone can beat anyone and we've seen that a million times, especially in 18-hole match play. Yeah, I see how that looks. I also see seven guys here for the first time pumped up and ready to go, and I think that's giving me a great feeling about a new experience in The Presidents Cup after having a run of really, some big defeats. The atmosphere in our room is great this year."

The Americans can, in some ways, sympathize. They have been regular punching bags of the Europeans at the Ryder Cup of late, including a humiliating Sunday loss last year in Chicago. But they're not about to roll over just so this tournament can get some legs.

"Regardless of what past results have been," said Phil Mickelson, "it's a tournament we very much want to win, we very much want to play well in, and we want to represent the United States with class and pride in a way that everybody can be proud. So we want to play well, and past performance has nothing to do with it."

"I think everybody on our team realizes we've got a tough test in front of us," said Brandt Snedeker, who will partner with Hunter Mahan to take on Canada's Graham DeLaet and Jason Day. "I think we realize all these guys except for probably Matsuyama is probably the guy we know the least about. The rest of the guys we play on a regular basis. We see them a lot and realize how good they're playing, and these guys are by no means the underdogs they're trying to make themselves out to be."

Captain Nick Price isn't as worried about winning the Cup as he is in making it close, something that hasn't happened lately. Of course he'd like to win and to do that, he'll need to find a way to keep things from getting out of reach before the Sunday singles.

 "I think more important than anything else, this Presidents Cup needs to be very competitive," said Price. "Because in the past, the last four Presidents Cups, you can argue either way, but I honestly believe they have not been that competitive."
Not competitive? The Internationals haven't just been losing, they've been getting hammered. Since they tied in South Africa in 2003, they've lost by three points, five points, five points and four points. Not exactly nail-biting stuff.

For the Internationals to make a game of this, they'll need to rely on the naivety of their rookies who, as Graham DeLaet pointed out this week, don't know what they don't know, and some exceptional play from the veterans such as Scott and Ernie Els. You never say never in a game like golf, but certainly this would be an upset of monumental proportions.

While the odds may be long, the upside of a win would be ever-so sweet. In sports, there's nothing like kicking a little U.S. butt.

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