TORONTO - Two distinct packs of dingoes have formed in anticipation of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
The howling, however, is going on here in North America instead of down under in Australia two months before it even gets started. In the middle is a Tiger, who is prey for one side and lead dog for the other.
In one pack are those who believe that Tiger Woods never should have been named to the American side by captain Fred Couples. When we last saw him, Woods was so vulnerable, saying he needed time to work with Sean Foley on a game that failed him miserably when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship.
Apparently, Couplesí selection was the magic elixir Tiger needed even though he hasnít played a competitive round since then and his creatures of habit are buying it.
Those dingoes believe their lead dog is their only source of nourishment and theyíll show their teeth at anybody who might deprive them of that, even if it is the young pups on the PGA Tour who, by the numbers, deserve a spot on the team more than Tiger.
It is those dingoes who make Tiger news even when he doesnít deserve to be and such is the case as he prepares for the Presidents Cup in mediocrity by his own standards.
Working in the shadows, Woods will be discussed at least as much as the FedEx Cup playoffs he didnít qualify for, the 10 automatic picks who make the Presidents Cup team and Couplesí final captainís pick which will become as much about who was left off the team because of the Woods pick as who made it.
What gets lost in all of this Tiger talk is the fact that the Presidents Cup is a team game, a concept that Europeans have been able to grasp, which explains their dominance in Ryder Cup play.
The Internationals havenít learned how to exploit the U.S. emphasis on individuals, particularly Woods, in the Presidents Cup, but the time may be right this year with this circus.
It shouldnít be about Woods, but secretly, International captain Greg Norman must be hoping it continues to be about Tiger. Norman has the luxury of basking in the knowledge that he has a magnificent team forming, with the likes of Jason Day, Adam Scott and Masters champ Charl Schwartzel, among others.
Itís a team that has more than talent. Compared to its opponents, the International team is a relatively quiet bunch and it would behoove the Shark to make sure it stays that way to take advantage of all the fireworks on the other side.
Even if Woods managed to win the Frys.com Open or the Australian Open before he arrived at Royal Melbourne, it would still be all about Tiger and how heís back. On the other hand, he canít show up with just a bag of excuses and rhetoric on how his game is ďcloseĒ if heís not contributing.
In the meantime, the Internationals can sit back, enjoy the fireworks and be entertained by the dingoes in the North American zoo.
DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS FOR TIGER
One of the crutches used by the Tiger cubs in defending their manís selection is that Mike Weir and Adam Scott performed well for the Internationals in 2007 and 2009 after they were controversial picks, which is true. The difference is that they became pleasant surprises, while the expectations on Woods are much higher. If heís anywhere close to the all-time great that Couples described, Woods will overcome the pressure, as he did so often in his prime, and rise to the challenge Ö The Tiger talk will get old fast enough over the next couple of months, so take a break and watch Juli Inkster who was an automatic pick to the American team at the Solheim Cup, the womenís version of the Ryder Cup, next week in Ireland. At 51, Inkster is the oldest player to every compete in the event and sheíll also serve as assistant captain to Rosie Jones as the U.S. guns for its fourth consecutive win Ö Arnold Palmer turned 82 on Saturday and the King says he can still shoot his age. No Freddie, thatís not a hint to name Arnie to the Presidents Cup team.
TICKET INTO OPEN
Rob Couture, a native of Trenton now living in Dallas, earned himself a spot into next yearís RBC Canadian Open by winning the Canadian Mid-Amateur Championship at Coppinwood near Uxbridge. Couture edged Cory Renfrew of Victoria by one stroke Ö Speaking of Coppinwood, Jed Badour, 13, recently had a hole-in-one on the par-316th hole, using a four iron. Exactly two weeks later, his dad Jeff had an ace on the same hole, also with a four iron and with the same pin placement. It was the first hole-in-one for each of them Ö Does nobody realize that belly putters and long putters have been around for a long time? Why all the excitement now when Phil Mickelson or Michelle Wie, with her new red hair, use one and why all the discussion about how they stretch the Rules of Golf? Itís old news folks. Just saying.