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The WEEI Country Club
10.08.09
The What Cup?

By: Pro From Dover

It may be a unique American gene in our national DNA. When we find something appealing, we replicate, duplicate, masticate and imitate it until the specialness is gone.

It wasn’t good enough that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” got great ratings. Nope, the network decided to put it on three nights a week.  And “Deal or no Deal” is another.

How about reality TV? “American Idol” begets “America’s Got Talent” begets “Dancing with the Stars” begets “So You Think You Can Dance?” and on and on. We can only imagine the show concepts that have been presented and mercifully euthanized in a producer’s office. As P.T. Barnum allegedly said, “Give ‘em what they want.”

So, here’s the Presidents Cup this week, spawn of the Ryder Cup. It’s the eighth iteration of this team competition being played on a wonderful public course in San Francisco, Harding Park Golf Club. It’s contested in alternate years as the counterpoint to the Ryder Cup.

The US captain is Fred Couples, Mr. Smooth. The International captain is Greg Norman, Mr. Alimony. Actually come to think if it, Couples and Norman may have more divorces between them than majors. Maybe not.

We love the Ryder Cup. Granted, the original version with the US against Great Britain evolved into a boring, predictable biennial US rout. But Jack Nicklaus had the foresight and the influence to introduce the modification which brought the rest of Europe into the mix. That was a stroke of genius and has resulted in wonderful, enthralling, gut-wrenching, competitive contests.

So now we have the Presidents Cup which pits US players against stars from the rest of the world. The opposition this year has players from South Africa, Australia, South Korea, Columbia and elsewhere. It’s a potpourri of professionals. And Tiger is playing for us.

Yet, for some reason, in this corner it’s just not particularly exciting because it’s a knock-off of the real deal.

What’s particularly interesting is having Greg Norman as the captain. Several years ago Norman came up with the idea of a world tour of tournaments and he was lobbying players to more or less break away from the PGA Tour. The Tour folks aren’t too stupid and there are those who say they ripped off Norman’s idea and created the World Golf Championships we now see integrated into the regular Tour season as well as the Presidents Cup.

The other interesting side bar relates to the extremely chilly relationship between the PGA and the PGA Tour. We have alluded to this in the past and will dig into it sometime in the future. But the wrinkle here is that the PGA owns and operates the Ryder Cup and the PGA Tour was more than a little bit jealous of not just the competitive success but the enormous amount of money generated by the event.

Thus we have the Presidents Cup, owned and operated by the PGA Tour. What a coincidence.

So we end up with the Ryder Cup and what a friend refers to as Ryder Cup Lite. We like that characterization. The Presidents Cup is a pale imitation of the real deal.

We’ll watch. Two years ago in Montreal Woody Austin played the clown and it made for entertaining television. It’s also always fun witnessing the best gag over three foot putts. Perhaps it’s the same attitude we have toward watching car races as we await the next crash. It’s not that we particularly care about the specific event but we are drawn by the prospect of catastrophe.