The Special Nature of the Presidents Cup
Even before the first shot was made in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, observers were predicting that the biennial matches between the United States and an International Team with players from all the golfing nations of the world outside Europe would be both competitive and compelling. The event has certainly lived up to this expectation.
In fact, no less a figure than Jack Nicklaus, who has captained four U.S. teams, predicted in 1998 that “in ten years, The Presidents Cup will be bigger than the Ryder Cup.”
The size of both events can be debated, but what is certain is that The Presidents Cup has come a long way in a relatively short period of time.
A look at the record reveals that the U.S. leads the series 5-1-1; but looks can be deceiving, as the matches have generally been closer than the numbers indicate. For example, while the American side won the first two Presidents Cups, which were played in the States, the Internationals cruised to a stunning 20½-11½ win the first time the matches were played overseas, in this case at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
A perfect example of The Presidents Cup’s spirit of sportsmanship came in the 2003 Matches at The Links at Fancourt in George, South Africa. With the score tied at the end of regulation play and still tied after Tiger Woods and South Africa’s Ernie Els played three playoff holes, darkness forced an end to play and the Matches were declared a tie, with both sides sharing the Cup.
“From day one, Gary [Player, the International captain] and I said it’s not about who wins and loses,” said Nicklaus, the American captain. “Goodness gracious, both Gary and I wanted to win, and so did all our players. But the game is bigger than that.”
The long friendship between U.S. Captain Fred Couples and International Captain Greg Norman ensures that spirit will reign at Harding Park when the Matches take on an added spark with the addition of Korea’s Y.E. Yang, who faced down Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship.
“I think Y.E.’s victory was great for the game of golf and obviously great for the International Team and The Presidents Cup,” says Norman. “I’ve got a very, very well-balanced team, a mixture of a lot of experience and some rookies. And as I scan down and look at the U.S. Team, I see it’s exactly the same way. They have the balance of the two teams from The Presidents Cup past experiences; it’s very, very similar in a lot of ways.”
Whatever the outcome, The Presidents Cup, in collaboration with its new Global Partner, Citi, remains a model for something else that goes beyond the competition: a deep commitment to charity.
From the beginning, no players, captains or captain’s assistants have received any compensation. Instead, all the participants divide the net revenues into equal shares, and they are free to designate those monies to charities of their choice. Going into this year’s Matches at San Francisco’s Harding Park Golf Course on October 6-11, The Presidents Cup has generated more than $17 million in charitable giving, with a record $4.2 million donated following the 2007 matches at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada.
All in all, a pretty impressive legacy.
The Presidents Cup
San Francisco, CA
October 6-11, 2009
Wednesday – Opening Ceremony: 4 p.m.
Thursday: Noon -5 p.m.
Friday:11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
*All times are Pacific Daylight Time