News & Opinion

Enjoy it, U.S., because world is catching up

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – There's only one thing for the International team to do after losing yet again – and in a blowout – at the Presidents Cup: form a task force. 

Hey, it worked for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup.

But all of this talk about killing the Presidents Cup is ludicrous. For starters, let's state the obvious: the Presidents Cup isn't going anywhere. It is one of the PGA Tour's signature events, and though the players might be tired after the FedEx Cup playoffs and be ready for a break, they live for team golf. That's why Phil Mickelson did whatever he could to impress captain Steve Stricker to pick him for this team. It's why Adam Scott left his newborn child to try to win a cup.

It's an unenviable task to try to defend the Presidents Cup after Sunday's death march resulted in one of the most lopsided defeats in the competition's history, a 19-11 American victory, but it also is a knee-jerk reaction to say it must go (scores: http://bit.ly/2xzUKfk). Just two years ago, the final day produced great drama, with the outcome of the match hanging in the balance until the final hole of the last match.

The competition was conceived to be staged in non-Ryder Cup years and take advantage of world-class players such as Australia’s Greg Norman and Zimbabwe's Nick Price, who were ineligible for the Ryder Cup, which is restricted to players born in the U.S. and Europe. There was a cry of "What about the rest of us?" The phrase stuck, and the U.S. opponent became known as "the rest of the world." These players deserve a chance to compete as a team.

As long as a large sector of the Tour's membership can never participate in the Ryder Cup, there will be a need for the Presidents Cup. It also serves as a key cog in the Tour's effort to grow golf's footprint. No matter the winning the side, the Presidents Cup is beamed around the world to 226 countries and territories, to approximately 993 million homes, and in 23 languages. Sure, most of them flipped to another channel because this edition was a blowout, but the Presidents Cup has helped grow the sport. Just ask Branden Grace, who worked on the driving range during the week of the 2003 event in his native South Africa. 

Can the order of four-ball or foursomes be flipped or the number of points and participants be tweaked? Sure. But those are Band-Aid fixes. The Presidents Cup isn't broken. It's really just ahead of its time.

Don't laugh, but whatever changes are made to help accommodate the competitive imbalance that existed during the past week likely will be reversed in the next 10 or 20 years. In fact, Americans should celebrate this victory now because there may come a time when Team USA is trying to annex Canada and South America to make the matches fair. The rest of the world has awakened to golf.

With golf as an Olympic sport, an infusion of resources to develop gold-medal winners will lead to an influx of talent in more corners of the world than Jhonattan Vegas in Venezuela and Anirban Lahiri in India. It's already happening. Two Chinese-born golfers graduated to the PGA Tour through the Web.com Tour this season. Players Championship winner Si Woo Kim from South Korea is just 22. With PGA Tour developmental circuits in China, Latin America and Canada, a system is in place to move up the ladder of professional golf quickly.

Ask yourself this: Would the American women have a chance against Asia, let alone the rest of the world except for Europe, if there were a Presidents Cup version of the Solheim Cup?

But don't just take my word. None other than Jack Nicklaus has predicted the Presidents Cup will be bigger than the Ryder Cup someday.

The Ryder Cup has a 67-year head start on the Presidents Cup. It wasn't a fair fight until the Great Britain and Ireland team expanded to Europe. Australian Geoff Ogilvy, an assistant captain, says the Internationals just need a spark like the one that Seve Ballesteros once provided for Europe. For now, it is the American side that has discovered its secret sauce. 

"We can blame Europe," Ogilvy said. "They got so good at this that it forced the U.S. to react and get good at this. Now we have to catch up."

So, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and their teammates should celebrate today because the Presidents Cup definitely could flip.

"The pipeline for the International side is promising,” Ogilvy said. “The talent coming from South Korea is deep, and they all have perfect swings.”

Whatever is broken with the Presidents Cup can be fixed. Someone assemble a task force ASAP.

Adam Schupak has written about golf since 1997 for the likes of Golfweek, Golf World and The New York Times. He is the author of Deane Beman: Golf's Driving Force. Email: golfsdrivingforce@gmail.com; Twitter: @adamschupak