I did something mad over the weekend that I never thought I’d admit. For context, I was very tired. I didn’t fancy a pint, worse still a hangover, and well, don’t judge me for it but all alone on Saturday night, I did the unthinkable.
I watched the Presidents Cup.
Now I’m well aware of the bad wrap this event receives in this part of the world. A poor man’s Ryder Cup, the fact the Internationals have only won once since it was first played in 1994 doesn’t help those defending this much-maligned exhibition. Billed as David versus Goliath, the 2022 edition wasn’t about to cough up an exception.
After all, the Internationals arrived ravaged by LIV – no Cam Smith, Niemann, Oosthuizen, Leishman or Ancer; the USA arguably only missing DJ on form. Sure enough, INT were written off before the matches started. An 8-2 score-line after round two went according to script.
“I’ll say it. Rome is not going to be all that close,” declared a tweet from Kyle Porter, a prominent U.S. golf writer, so bored watching America dish out its latest spanking that he was already salivating over bending Europe across his lap.
You could almost forgive him getting carried away. With just 11 of the world’s best 17 golfers on the team, the yanks were playing like they knew it. Putts fell from all angles. Every bounce went their way. It wasn’t a case of if they’d win, but by how many. There were records to be broken. Dynasties to be born. Beers to be shot-gunned. 15.5 points looked gettable before Sunday. And much like Tiger told this U.S. team at Whistling Straits, it was time to step on the Internationals’ necks.
There I was tuning in to watch the Presidents Cup last Saturday night thinking I had no dog in the fight. I quickly found my dog.
I’ve come to realise that there’s something about the U.S. team uniform that rubs me up the wrong way. Maybe it’s a fallout from Brookline in ’99 but even guys I like, be it Thomas, Spieth or Homa, once they start playing golf in red, white and blue, the romantic inside me pours out. The one that loves to hate.
The whooping, the hollering, the cries of ‘LET’S GO BABY, YEAH! U-S-A, U-S-A. Land of the free. Home of the brave. It’s all just so… American.
Don’t get me wrong, I like America, and Americans. When I was a kid I even loved America. Bombarded with U.S. pop culture, I came of age watching American Pie. I listened to Blink 182. I dreamt about college parties, imagined sipping beer from red plastic cups, even marrying a blonde girl from California, moving to the OC and befriending Sandy Cohen. And then, well, I guess the internet happened.
Word of Americans refusing to believe life exists outside of America started filtering through MSN Messenger. Videos emerged of people struggling to point out Europe on a map. Hell, most of them couldn’t even find America.
And eventually I got to America, and I realised these people actually exist. They’re all one-eighth Irish yet their only knowledge of “the old country” is the leprechauns that patrol the riches of the rainbow and our over-reliance on spuds (all true by the way). Now they’re the same people who shout mashed potatoes to get attention at golf tournaments. And I hate him.
So I guess when I see JT, Spieth and Homa wearing red, white and blue, I don’t actually see them at all, rather America at large. And I know that’s not fair. It’s a massive generalisation against a small minority. But it’s also just a bit of craic. Kinda like when Tommy Tiernan jokes, “I like England. Of course it’s always nice to see them lose in things like football… and war.”
At least I think he was joking… But it made the Presidents Cup far more enjoyable knowing, that even for a second, that mashed potatoes spouting clown quaked in his boots when Tom Kim sparked a comeback that would rival the Miracle at Medinah.
And how good was Tom Kim? 20-years young and carrying the International team on his back… the two-iron he hit on 18 from 234-yards on Saturday to 15-feet was something else. To then hole the putt to beat arguably America’s most formidable pairing, Cantlay and Schauffele… I mean, even Xander clapped.
In Kim, a star was born at Quail Hollow and God help me but I even agree with Paul Azinger that this guy is destined to be world number one. In the short term though, he might’ve single-handedly saved this biennial contest without even realising it.
I’d seen calls for the Presidents Cup to be scrapped altogether, before it started and halfway through. Paul McGinley felt it should be a mixed event and although I have no problem with that suggestion as a tournament in its own right, I think it’s disrespectful to the International team and its fanbase to suggest they’re not worthy of teeing it up against the Americans once every two years.
The way Trevor Immelman’s side put it up to these ‘Invincibles’ over the weekend was a true underdog story easy to invest in. And given how Europe’s new blood has performed in recent weeks, well, put it this way – I’d say poor Kyle Porter is regretting that tweet!