Monday Backspin: Victory at The Presidents Cup provides fun ride for Americans

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Amanda Balionis recaps Team USA’s victory and all the news from The Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village.

October 07, 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Fun. You heard that word tossed around a lot by the American team last week at Muirfield Village, even with all the weather delays.

The U.S. won The Presidents Cup on Sunday for the fifth straight time, coasting to an 18.5-15.5 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The Americans’ dominance in the event has been well-documented -- the U.S. is 8-1-1 since the biennial matches were launched in 1994 and hasn’t lost since 1998.

Compare that to the Ryder Cup, where the U.S. has lost six of the last eight, including four of the last five.

So what’s the difference?

There are a number of reasons, and one of them is that three-letter word.

“You always want to be a part of these teams,” Tiger Woods said. “Being with the guys and getting together with the guys and playing as a team and playing for your country and for one another, it's a lot of fun.”

Added Phil Mickelson: “To play these team events with Keegan (Bradley), he just brings out the best in me. It's fun."

That’s not to suggest it isn’t there when the Americans play Europe, but there’s a different sort of intensity associated with the Ryder Cup.

Just take Sunday’s post-match mayhem. There was Adam Scott and Marc Leishman partying with the Fanatics, even though their team had lost. Even U.S. Captain Fred Couples got into it, throwing on a Fanatics T-shirt and hat and dancing and singing with them on the putting green behind the clubhouse at Muirfield Village.

It’s what The Presidents Cup is all about. Pure fun. Of course it’s also fun when you’re winning.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"I love showing off in front of him and I think he likes showing off in front of me." -- Keegan Bradley on being paired with Phil Mickelson in what has quickly become a major bromance and one of the Americans’ more formidable pairings.

“Freddie (Couples) wanted me to bring him to the press center but Sammy has already gotten enough press today.” – Davis Love III on the squirrel that got so much attention last week at Muirfield Village. Amen.

“It was unbelievable, just one of the coolest feelings in my life really.” -- Graham DeLaet after chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole in Sunday’s Foursomes match before Keegan Bradley followed with a birdie of his own to halve the match. DeLaet was an impressive 3-1-1 in his first Presidents Cup.

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

@Pgawxman1: “Weakening band of rain just west of the area. Looks like it may stay just west of the course. @PresidentsCup #letsgetlucky” PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams on a band of bad weather that mostly dodged Muirfield Village on Sunday. A half-hour after the matches ended the skies opened up and it didn’t stop raining for hours. Phew.

@GrahamDeLaet: “Quote of the night so far.... Leish, "how good is beer" – DeLaet summing up the spirit of The Presidents Cup right there.

THE BACK NINE: 9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Tiger Woods again led the U.S., going 4-1 this year and securing the winning point for a third straight time. “To have the opportunity to win the Cup for Freddie and all the guys on the team, it means a lot to me,” he said. Woods also did it with his back acting up. Over the last two months the world’s No. 1 player has experienced stiffness and spasms and just like at The Barclays, where he fell to his knees after hitting a shot late in the final round, Woods clutched at his back on the 15th hole Sunday. “It's been a long week for all of us,” said Woods, who had the best record of the week at 4-1. “I think a few of us are a little bit dinged up and our physios did a hell of a job this week getting us out there and keeping us going. And especially with all the start and stops, as many holes ... I've never played three matches in a day before, so that was certainly a first (Saturday). It's been a long week, I'm a little sore, and I'm certainly looking forward to not touching a club for a while.” Woods’ next scheduled start will be Oct. 28 at Mission Hills, where he’ll play an exhibition with Rory McIlroy for the second straight year. After that, Woods will play the Turkish Airlines Open followed by his Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club the first week of December to close out his year.

2. Fred Couples said a three-peat was “good enough for him” and won’t be back as The Presidents Cup captain. Nick Price, on the other hand, would like another crack at it, saying afterward, “I’ll do it again if they ask me.” Aside from the outcome, this one proved difficult for the rookie captain. “Of all The Presidents Cups I've been involved in, this was probably the hardest because of the weather conditions,” he said. “The hardest part was trying to figure out the pairings. I felt like I didn't have enough time to do the pairings. It just seemed like we were rushed a little bit. It's the same for Fred, so that's no excuse. It’s very difficult. Half the guys were still on the golf course (when the singles matches started).”

3. Couples referred to his squad as an all-star team, and he was right. No player contributed fewer than two points and six of the 12 Americans had at least three points.

4. Jack Nicklaus said last week that the U.S. has more good younger players than it has ever had. He was referring to a lot of players learning how to win while Woods took some time off a few years ago, but the point was exemplified at The Presidents Cup, especially with Jordan Spieth. The 20-year-old was nervous in his first match out with partner Steve Stricker until Stricker told him, “I know you got some nerves going, but let’s start playing some golf now.” They went on to win the match and Spieth ended his week 2-2. Get used to seeing him on these teams for the next 20 years.

5. The same could be said about Hideki Matsuyama. Though he earned just 1 1/2 points last week, his play was impressive and made an impression on playing partner Adam Scott. Matsuyama had a half-dozen top 25s in seven starts on the PGA TOUR this past season, including a couple of top 10s in majors, and will be on TOUR full-time in the upcoming season.

6. Stat of the Week I: Five. That’s the number of consecutive The Presidents Cups won by the U.S., which hasn’t lost since 1998 and is 8-1-1 in the history of the event. “There's lots of changes I would like to see but I don't think we should discuss those now,” International Team Captain Nick Price said afterward. “Let's let the Americans enjoy this win and let's look to the future as to what we can do to make this perhaps more competitive. The thing that is lacking as we've all said is the competition.”

7. Stat of the Week II: 0-8-0, which was the combined record of The Presidents Cup rookies Branden Grace and Richard Sterne. They were the only two players not to earn a point for the International Team in a competition that was ultimately decided by three points.

8. Stat of the Week III: Grace and Sterne were hardly the only ones to struggle. The five South Africans on the team, including Grace and Sterne, had combined for just four points by the time they got to the singles matches.

9. Hope you enjoyed the offseason. The 2013-14 season starts this week at the Frys.com Open.

MONDAY BACKSPIN MAILBAG
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Why do networks insist on ruining golf events by showing them on tape delay? -- T.F. Cochran

It’s a tough situation for television when weather impacts play, and it’s not as simple as just showing the tournament live. Many times there are contractual obligations, various other commitments or other programming involved. If you change one thing, it means you have to change something else and it creates a snowball effect. No one likes tape delay of course but there’s no good or simple solution, either.

Why is it American golf courses have such poor drainage? Five minutes of rain and every event gets delayed! -- Phil Stephen

Some courses are certainly better than others when it comes to drainage, Phil, but Muirfield Village was hit with a deluge. Nearly 2 inches of rain fell there since Tuesday and overcast skies made it more difficult to dry out. At some point any golf course becomes saturated when it takes on too much water. The bigger problem last week -- and all season -- was that it just seemed to rain an awful lot.

Will any of the top players play in any PGA TOUR events before January? -- Eric Smith

It depends on what you mean by top, but there will be some strong fields, including at this week’s Frys.com Open. Angel Cabrera, Hideki Matsuyama and Marc Leishman all went straight from The Presidents Cup to CordeValle. The McGladrey Classic also typically gets a good field because of Davis Love III’s involvement and the fact that so many players live in Sea Island, Ga.

Have a question for the mailbag? Email it to brianwacker@pgatourhq.com, or tweet it to @pgatour_brianw.

FORWARD SPIN: WHO I LIKE THIS WEEK
frys.88

Thanks to a change in the schedule, the 2013-14 season will now be played in a wrap-around format with the four events that previously made up the Fall Series now part of the FedExCup season. Kicking off the new format is the Frys.com Open, where Billy Horschel finished 29th and seventh each of the last two years. After some much-needed rest (well, one week off anyway) following a career year, Horschel should play well. Twice he has shot 65 at CordeValle and his scoring average in eight rounds there is 68.6. He has already won once and is also coming off a tie for seventh at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

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