USA USA USA!
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the United States won the 10th Presidents Cup over the weekend, the team’s fifth straight outright win in the event. As we saw last week, Bovada had the US at -275 to win and the team’s talent and collective results speak for themselves. From a betting perspective, I still think that was too expensive a price to bet on the American squad, but hey, it’s hard to argue with their eight wins and one tie in the 10 playings of the event.
The US got out to a hot start and dominated the team play, amassing a six point lead going into Sunday’s singles matches. We saw the European team overcome a similarly large lead going into singles matches at last year’s Ryder Cup, but this Internationals team could not match that feat and lost 18.5-15.5 in the end.
As a huge fan of these team competitions, I have to say I was pretty disappointed in the entertainment level of the event. A lot if it had to do with the fact that three of the four days of play had long weather delays that threw off the schedule, but the tension and excitement that often make these events so fantastic to watch seemed to be missing. That being said, with so many young talented players making their team competition debut at this event, we got a taste of what the future may hold for such events.
Highlights for included the emergence of a new powerhouse US pairing in Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods. Tiger has never performed in these team events quite like he hope he will, and a lot of that has had to do with not finding the right teammate, but he and Kuchar won three of four matches and seemed to be getting along quite well, even creating their own little celebratory handshake. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team together for years to come.
On the International side, Jason Day and Graham Delaet emerged as the team to beat and played with an intensity and passion that was unmatched by any other team on the course. Delaet was my pick for Top International Player going into the week, and he didn’t let me down by tying for 1st with playing partner Day. My US pick, Jordan Spieth, struggled at times in his President’s Cup debut, but still scored two points for the US team playing alongside veteran Steve Stricker. Spieth was one of the two players to sit out Saturday’s Foursome matches, so two for four aint bad for your first time. Hopefully you all listened to my initial advice though and bought Tiger at 9/2; he led all players in the competition with four points.
No Rest For The Weary; FedEx Cup 2013-14 Starts with Frys.com Open
It may feel like the PGA Tour season ended just a few weeks back (because it did), but just like that we’re back at it this week with the Frys.com open. In years past, the stretch of events between the end of the Tour Championship and the start of the Tournament of Champions in January has acted as an opportunity for lower tier players to earn some more money and try to retain their Tour Cards, and acted as a break for many of the top players. However, starting this year, these events will be just like every other PGA Tour event and count towards overall FedEx Cup standings. It’s unlikely this will change anything from an attendance perspective this year, but in years to come this will certainly have an effect on who we see playing in these “off-season” events.
Personally, I think the FedEx Cup season is long enough as it is and all this does is put pressure on top players to be playing year round with little to no break. However, I don’t mind that it puts pressure on borderline players to perform year round now that they don’t have a stretch of tournaments where all the big guns are sitting out. Staying on the PGA Tour is hard for a reason and if you rely on these tournaments to keep you in the mix you should probably re-evaluate.
Regardless of all this, we have some golf to play this week, and someone will be crowned as the first winner of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. As these changes have yet to have an impact on attendance, the field is pretty weak and only features one player who made it to the Tour Championship in Billy Horschel. Joining Horschel as the tournament favorites at 20/1 are long-hitting, Reno-Tahoe Open champ Gary Woodland, and 21 year old Japanese phenom Hideki Matsuyama who is one of three International President’s Cup members in the field.
Between these three, I would have to go with Woodland because of his strong 2013 finish that included his Reno Tahoe win and a 2nd at The Barclays. Matsuyama looked promising at the Presidents Cup last week and finished in the Top 10 of both Majors he played this year on very difficult golf courses, but CordeValle was the easiest par 71 course on Tour last year and I am still not confident in his ability to shoot in the low 60’s every day, which the eventual winner will need to do. As for Horschel, I don’t pick anyone who owns pants with octopi on them.
The other two players I highlighted as dark horses outside of the Top 20 were Carl Pettersson at 75/1 and Michael Putnam at 150/1. After a season with six Top 10’s and a win in 2012, Pettersson inexplicably played terribly in 2013 notching only three Top 25’s all year. The portly Swede is still an elite golfer in my opinion, and maybe after more than six weeks off to figure out what’s been plaguing him all year he’ll be able to perform up to his potential this week. Michael Putnam on the other hand dominated the Web.com Tour this year, finishing 1st in regular season points. He will be the favorite to perform well this year among the 50 players who earned 2013-14 PGA Tour Cards via the Web.com Tour, many of whom will make their debut this week at The Frys.com.