|U.S. team player Tiger Woods (R) embraces team captain Fred Couples after they won the Presidents Cup golf tournament against the Internationals at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Brandon Malone
It began being all about Tiger Woods and a disgruntled ex-employee and finished being all about Tiger clinching the point that won the Presidents Cup for the Americans.
If you bought into the rah-rahs being spewed by the Tiger cheerleaders in the television booth, blogs and social media, Woods’ singles victory over Aaron Baddeley vindicated Fred Couples in his controversial decision to make Woods a captain’s pick.
If you get past the verbiage, you’ll find in that clutter the 2-3 overall record for Woods, the true measure of his performance over the flowery prose of those who support the cronyism and blatant sucking up for ratings that went with Couples’ decision.
That says something about the state of golf when only one man can sell a game that will one day have to do without Woods and rely on players such as Keegan Bradley, this year’s PGA Championship winner who paid the price for Couples’ call.
Merit wasn’t enough to earn Bradley a spot on the team, but that will be quickly forgotten in the wake of Woods using impeccable timing to put the Americans over the top in an eventual 19-15 win against the Internationals.
For all we’ve heard about Tiger’s challenges over the past two years, Jim Furyk had a sub-par season before arriving at Royal Melbourne, where he compiled a perfect 5-0 record, particularly due to a putter that suddenly got hot on the slick and nasty greens.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson set the tone for the Americans in three of the five sessions, even if they did flounder at the end, as did Phil Mickelson after first playing an important role in Furyk’s first three wins.
We could go on, but the point is that the Presidents Cup was won in the manner in which team competitions are supposed to be won, not by an individual who draws eyes whether he’s a train wreck or an unstoppable runaway locomotive. Tiger can be both.
When Couples made Woods a captain’s pick a month before he needed to, Woods was still a train wreck and today, it’s debatable whether Bradley could have matched his two wins, only because we’ll never know, but you have to think yes.
If that was the case, the only difference would be that it was somebody other than Woods getting the winning point for there were enough leaders this year, which isn’t often said about the Americans, particularly when it comes to the Ryder Cup.
I’m sure Woods himself would acknowledge the team aspect of this year’s victory. It’s always the Tiger cubs who go over the top in their adoration.
For the past two years, Woods has been saying he’s “close” to getting his game back in shape, but that hasn’t happened for many reasons, including personal problems, injuries, swing changes, lack of confidence or a combination of all those things.
Now more than ever, the “close” term really does apply. Woods’ ball-striking was spot on, even if his putter let him down through most of the competition.
What was missing throughout most of the Presidents Cup was his ability to get it done one way or the other, which was his trademark through the glory years of his magnificent career. That ability was starting to show towards the end.
But not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Couples made the right decision by picking him.
WILL ANYBODY MENTION FOLEY?
It will be interesting to see, if Tiger starts winning regularly once again, how much credit is given to Canadian coach Sean Foley, who has drawn a lot of criticism since beginning to work with Woods over a year ago ... It’s tough to swallow the theory that the Americans have an edge in foursomes play over the Internationals because they play it every year in either the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. That’s only once a year for the U.S., which hardly gives them the consistent play needed to refine their games and mindset for the alternate shot competition. The Internationals lost 4-1 in one session of foursomes and won only once in the other session, with two halved matches. On the other hand, they won a four-ball session 3-2 and tied the other 3-3 before splitting singles play with the Americans, so they had a slight lead outside of foursomes.
Geoff Ogilvy and Masters champ Charl Schwartzel had the best records for the Internationals, each with 3-1-1 records. Right behind them were K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen with 3-2 records ... Hunter Mahan finished second to Furyk on the American side with a 4-1 record ... The fact is that the Internationals had a home town crowd, a beast of a golf course in Royal Melbourne, local knowledge with five Aussies in the lineup, a talented team that was the favourite going in and still couldn’t get it done. Just saying.