You don’t have to look far on social media to find the Presidents Cup naysayers and, frankly, that’s no great surprise.
A construct of the PGA Tour designed for the sole purpose of trying to rival the money-making machine that is the Ryder Cup is exactly the sort of contrived event one is tempted to speak against.
But there is a hypocrisy in this stance, one that this writer grudgingly admits to having been a part of.
Like many, I have succumbed to the temptation to write off the biennial event as an exhibition, a poor cousin to the much more interesting and storied Ryder Cup.
However – and this is where the hypocrisy comes in – I have also been guilty of complaining long and loud about the lack of interesting formats in professional golf.
More than once has the term ‘stale diet of 72-hole stroke-play’ emanated from this very keyboard, often alongside a call for ‘more team match play’.
So irrespective of the motivations of the Presidents Cup owners, we should, as golf fans, at least be thankful for its presence in the competitive landscape.
The problem, of course, is that while it IS in the landscape, it is far from competitive. Well not often enough, anyway.
The debacle that unfolded in New York two years ago – when the ‘competition’ was almost decided before Sunday’s singles – was hopefully the low point.
Because in truth there is no reason why the Internationals vs Team USA rivalry can’t match that of the Euro vs US, as long as the contests are close.
For the first 50 years of its existence the Ryder Cup was a dud, too, if competition is the measure.
Before European players were accepted into the team, Great Britain and Ireland won just three of the first 22 matches and tied once.
“Irrespective of the motivations of the Presidents Cup owners, we should, as golf fans, at least be thankful for its presence in the competitive landscape.”
The inclusion of Seve Ballesteros and company in 1979 lifted the European team for many reasons, among them Seve himself and his desire to prove himself against the powerhouse Americans.
Since 1979 Europe actually has the ascendancy with 11 wins from the 20 matches played.
That turning point was crucial to the success of what is now one of the world’s great sporting contests and if the Internationals can find something similar the Presidents Cup can begin to build into something much more significant also.
Many point to the lack of a common flag to rally around for the Internationals, the thinking being that the blue fabric featuring the circle of gold stars is what unites Team Europe.
There is no doubt some truth to that though it seems more a marriage of convenience than a common cause grounded in reality.
The bulk of the European team members live and play full time in the US, their allegiance to the European flag extending to exactly one week every two years.
Without that option it seems the Internationals will need to look elsewhere for inspiration and one can’t help but think it may come in the form of a player.
Someone with a bold personality and a special talent, heavily invested in the event and the desire to beat America, motivated by more powerful forces than any flag can conjure.
Somebody like Seve.
No, we have not seen that player yet and perhaps it will be some years before we do. But just as Seve emerged from the beach at Pedrena to show the world a brilliance and charisma yet to be matched so, too, might there be a youngster honing the modern equivalent somewhere in Asia or South America.
In the meantime, as fans, let’s hope the contest next month at Royal Melbourne is a close and exciting one.
Because another whitewash may prove fatal for an event that has loads of potential but unquestionably needs more time.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, Good Good, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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