LOS ANGELES, October 7, 2013 — The United States held off a late charge by the International squad Sunday at the home of the Golden Bear to win their fifth consecutive President’s Cup. The Americans took a seemingly comfortable lead into the final day only needing to win four of 12 singles matches to once again win the biennial competition. With several close calls down the stretch, the American team pulled off the victory by a score of 18 ½ to 15 ½.
What seemed to be a foregone conclusion of an American rout changed quickly on Sunday. Fred Couples and his fellow co-captains looked at the scoreboards lining the fairways at Muirfield Village Golf Club, trying to figure out where the clinching point would come from. The answer came from Tiger Woods, who sealed the clinching point for the third consecutive President’s Cup, all of which have been led by Couples.
The International team, led by veterans Ernie Els, Adam Scott and other major winners, were flanked by seven President’s Cup rookies. They were forced to play with their backs against the wall on Sunday to overcome the large deficit they faced going into Sunday’s singles matches. Ernie Els and company, however, were no match for the American team that included many household names, including Woods.
Tiger Woods now has amassed 24 wins in his President’s Cup career, which puts him at number one all time. Woods was paired with fan favorite Matt Kuchar and they combined for a 4-0 record this week. They are sure to be paired together again next September when the U.S. looks to recapture the Ryder Cup in Scotland.
The momentum the International squad exuded Sunday will hopefully carry over to the next President’s Cup taking place two years from now in South Korea. The United States has now won eight of the ten competitions since the event was created as a showcase to rival the venerable Ryder Cup Matches. America’s dominance in the President’s Cup is mirrored by Europe’s dominance over the U.S. come Ryder Cup time.
The talented United States team tends to beat up on an international squad one year, yet be the punching bag for the Europeans the following September, thus the paradox of team match play. It is a completely different animal from what is otherwise a solitary, survival of the fittest, even selfish, sport.
When held accountable to a partner there is a different pressure, the fear of letting someone else down. Strange things happen when golfers are teamed together, in addition to the fist-bumps. Conversely, momentum can and will build when the chemistry among partners is there—see Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.
A veteran to this format is Steve Stricker, who contributed three points this week. As excited as he is for the team victory this weekend, his statement on Marshall Independent demonstrates how tough it is to forget. “Last year still stings,” Stricker said. “If you ask the guys that were on that team last year, I guarantee every one of them would think that last year at the Ryder Cup still hurts a bit. So I think it’s important that we came here and got a win.”
The US has been pummeled in the biennial Ryder Cup by team Euro every time they meet in a team match play format. Yet, a year later they seemingly take all that pent-up angst and frustration out on the rest of the world’s best players.
The theory is that being a reigning champion may build complacency. A year from now the US team needs to channel this same laid back, yet competitive Freddie Couples energy to win back the Ryder Cup on foreign soil.
In local golf news, the fourth annual Chester Cup Matches were held over the weekend in Westchester, Los Angeles with the coveted Chester Cup at stake. It is a team match play event in which two teams of 12 play in a condensed, one day format. The pairings for the event are crucial as it is not only about matching players of comparable handicaps, but personalities as well.
In the end, the winning margin was decided by a single match, with the Red team, captained by Quantrell Wiley and David Kersey coming out on top. Both teams lived and died on a result of a single link in the chain, and the camaraderie that brewed from the format was palpable.
David Kersey and Ross Hoagland were the MVPs, going 2-0 on Saturday. The duo made six birdies with the help of several 30-foot putts to take the Chester Cup from the defending Blue team.
Next year for the 5th annual Chester Cup in L.A., the 24 golfers will be increased to 40 and two teams of 20.
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