A FIGHTING final day comeback saw the Internationals save themselves from total embarrassment with a final session win but many of the veterans of the competition want to see big changes before the next match at Royal Melbourne in 2019.
The likely next Internationals captain Ernie Els was one of those calling for a number of changes after a “slaughtering” at the hands of a young US team that is only likely to get better in the next two years.
The US won overall by 19 – 11 (after a 7.5-4.5 final singles day loss) and as well as having a much lower average overall world golfing ranking (about half), came into the event in much better form.
Eleven of their 12 players made it to the 30 man Tour Championship at East Lake last week (the one who didn’t was record President cupper Phil Mickelson, as was pointed out mirthfully by his teammates at the teams’ winning media conference).
Even the Internationals team members who did make it to East Lake – the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day and Marc Leishman – didn’t fire overall and had slow starts to the tournament.
Cup veteran Adam Scott was another in not great form for the week, until winning his final singles match along with Day, Matsuyama, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Jhonattan Vegas. (Leishman, Branden Grace and Anirban Lahiri all halfed.)
But apart from raw talent and current form, many see some structural unfairness in the event that has seen the US team win seven matches straight and have a 10 win, 1 loss, 1 draw record overall.
A big difference is that the Americans play in a team format every year (with the Ryder Cup filling in every other year) and many have also played together since their college and junior days.
“The (US) have already played junior golf, college golf and the early part of their pro career together. It was very simple for us to put the team together,” said assistant captain Tiger Woods.
Els called for an overhaul of “logistics, scheduling, selection process (and) course set-up” before the next instalment event in Melbourne, venue of the Internationals’ lone victory in 1998.
“The Presidents Cup is owned by the PGA Tour, but we have to be more in control,” said Els. “There’s got to be a two-way street; we just want to be treated fairly.”
Els criticised the selection criteria for the Internationals, which is comprised of the top ten 10 players on the world rankings excluding those from Europe and Great Britain, whilst he US team is filled by the top 10 players on a rolling, two-year tally of FedEx Cup points, before both teams select two captain’s picks.
All 12 American players this year were ranked inside the world top 30, compared to six for the visitors.
“Maybe we should have our own selection process; picking six guys and six guys qualifiers … instead of being dictated by the Tour,” said Els.
Scott said the Americans obviously benefited from playing an annual team event.
“Playing together every year; they are getting good at it. They have found a system and they are winning,” he said.
“We need more practice of team play. The (Internationals) are really going to have to invest more in this as a group collectively on the off-year.
“This (defeat) is on the cards (again) unless we really get our acts together.”
2018 Presidents Cup Final Round Highlights Video