Nothing would do more to boost the biennial matches between the Americans and Internationals
The big week finally has arrived, an observation made only half in jest. Thanks to U.S. player/captain Tiger Woods, the greatest publicity magnet in golf history, that unbeloved affair known as the Presidents Cup is receiving unprecedented attention. People may not be gathering around the water cooler to discuss at-large picks or the highly unlikely notion that the Internationals actually could beat the Americans, but there is some buzz.
Has been for a couple of months now.
Can’t you just feel the excitement?
Seriously, a lot of things have fallen into place for the 13th edition of this biennial match-play series, the biggest being the presence of the guy in charge of the U.S. squad. Woods creates a stir when he runs down to the local 7-Eleven. A dual-role journey to Australia in his first team captaincy, his competitive career fully revived after a historic 2019? Strike up the band, fellas. This is precisely what the PGA Tour was hoping for when it decided to send the matches Down Under.
A Presidents Cup on the other side of the earth means a large, prime-time television window for the Golf Channel/NBC. You could gain 10 pounds this week just by lying on the couch and watching all of the action, which features an 11-hour double marathon on Friday and a pair of weekend replays on NBC in case you haven’t tackled that last bag of potato chips.
Would it be too much to ask for a little bit of drama down the stretch? Perhaps. This might be the weakest International roster ever, and given that the U.S. is 10-1-1 overall, that doesn’t beckon well to the concept of Ryder Cup-like suspense, but let’s not fret over the silly little details. Woods will be on the grounds at Royal Melbourne, and just as importantly, so will his golf clubs, which broadens the event’s mainstream appeal and makes this the perfect time to shoot an idea to Camp Ponte Vedra.
Why not make Eldrick the full-time Presidents Cup skipper right after the Yanks extend their winning streak to eight? Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples each held the captaincy for three terms, and if there’s one guy in the game more popular than those two, it’s Woods. Twenty-five years have passed since this event was somewhat hastily assembled by the Tour in an attempt to capitalize on the team-match genre. Only a card-carrying optimist could classify the event as a success.
America’s dominance against the Internationals only leaves many to wonder why the same guys get shellacked by the Europeans. The Presidents Cup is simply too contrived to be taken seriously, but a long-term commitment to Captain Woods would lend an instant shot of credibility and turn up all the dials on the mainstream-recognition factor. If he has another five years of superb play still left in his surgically scarred body and can make the U.S. team again, that’s a bonus.
Of course, it’s fair to wonder whether Woods would even want the job on such terms. I get the sense that he would accept it if approached correctly and given the option to serve as a Ryder Cup captain if the PGA of America asks him. There’s no reason the guy can’t hold both positions simultaneously. The older he gets, the less he’s likely to play, and he turns 44 at the end of the month.
The trump card on this whole matter might be Woods’ growing affection for being involved in the team-match scenario. He wasn’t a big fan of the Ryder Cup social thing upon turning pro in late 1996. He was uncomfortable interacting with his teammates, guys whom he spent the rest of the year trying to crush, and was particularly uneasy engaging in any dialogue with those on the opposing side.
Woods was one of several American players who campaigned for financial compensation when the U.S. squared off against Europe in 1999 in Boston. Although he was the least vocal of the quartet, guilt by association led to him being portrayed as a greedy, unappreciative brat. We’re talking about a 180-degree change in direction regarding Woods’ feelings on playing golf for his country, and that certainly must count for something when it comes to his piloting the Prez Cup program for the next decade or so.
In this era of a kinder, gentler Tiger, it wouldn’t be the stupidest idea ever if the Tour offered the captaincy to Woods as a token of thanks for all the revenue he has generated over the years. Not just for the front office, but for all pros who collect a handful of top-10 finishes each season and still walk away with $2.5 million.
Woods is to pro golf what Muhammad Ali was to boxing and Jackie Robinson was to breaking down racial barriers in sports. One profound influence might be more significant than another, but changing the game comes in various shapes and forms.
From a financial standpoint, Woods’ impact on all those around him is astounding. Handing him the Presidents Cup captaincy isn’t just the least the Tour can do. It’s the smart thing to do.