News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 4, 2009

On and Off the Course: President's Cup should be entertaining

By Jennifer Myers

TERRE HAUTE — Just when we thought golf season was over, and it was time to concentrate on football, we must awaken from our naps, because there’s going to be some exciting golf for us to watch next weekend. The President’s Cup will run from Oct. 6-11 at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The President’s Cup was created to give the world’s best non-European players an opportunity to compete in international team match-play competition. It made sense, since the Ryder Cup, pitting Europeans against Americans, had become such a popular television event, and there were so many good golfers from non-European countries playing professional golf. This year’s International team has players from Australia, Fiji, Columbia, South Africa, Argentina, Canada, South Korea and Japan.

The first event was held in 1994 and was to be held biannually, however, the 2002 Cup was postponed until the following year, due to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. , and it has been on the odd year ever since. The tradition is that the head of state of the country hosting the event serves as honorary chairman. This year President Obama has accepted that honor.

The captain of the U.S. team is Fred Couples, and he has named as his assistants Jay Haas and Michael Jordan — yes, THAT Michael Jordan! Jordan won’t be able to say much to the players about their golf games, but he is a golf nut, and he knows a few things about winning.

The captain of the International team is Greg Norman, with Fred Nobilo as his assistant. With Couples and Norman at the helm of each team, the President’s Cup is sure to produce antics, laughs, and lots of celebrity cameos. Both men spoke of their biggest challenge, outside of making the captain’s picks, as the clothing issue. Greg has to find clothing styles that fit both Camilo Villegas and Vijay Singh, and that’s a big difference in size and style!

The President’s Cup pits a strong U.S. team, selected on the basis of official earnings from the beginning of the 2008 season, against another strong International team. The International team was selected on the basis of Official World Golf Rankings.

The U.S. team is made up of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink , Sean O’Hair, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Captain Couples’ picks Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover.

The International team consists of Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Y.E. Yang, Tim Clark and Captain Norman’s picks Adam Scott and Ryo Ishikawa.

The schedule of The President’s Cup is much like the Ryder Cup. Practice rounds, open to the public, will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. Opening ceremonies, which will be televised live on the Golf Channel, will be at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The first round of competition, six matches of foursomes, will begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Foursomes are matches where two play against two, with partners alternating shots from tee to green. Each team member will be designated to tee off on either odd or even holes for the round.

The second round will begin at 10:55 a.m. Friday morning, for six matches of four-ball. Four-ball is what is commonly referred to as “best-ball” or “better-ball”. Two teammates play their own ball against the other twosome’s two balls, with the best score of the four winning the hole. Both the first and second rounds will be televised on the Golf Channel.

The third round of competition begins at 7:35 a.m. on Saturday morning. Television coverage will begin at 8 PST on NBC, and stay with it until 6 p.m. There will be five matches of foursomes, expecting to finish around 11:50. The first tee time for the fourth round is at 12:05. The fourth round is five matches of four-ball competition.

The final round of President’s Cup competition will begin Sunday morning at 9:25 a.m., with NBC’s coverage beginning at 9, with 12 singles matches. I’m sure there will be plenty of highlights to show in those 25 minutes prior to the first group’s tee time.

Quote of the Day — “We have had a lot of laughs about a lot of things, most of them he’s laughing at me. But I’ll get the last laugh once he gets there and I start telling him what he’s got to do and how to do it.” — Fred Couples, talking about Tiger Woods on the U.S. President’s Cup team.

Congratulations! — To Chris Cassell for winning the Terre Haute Men’s City Championship and to Rachel Welker for qualifying for another IHSAA girls state golf tournament.