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October 6 2013

6:26 PM

Observations: Team play carries U.S.

Bill Haas and Steve Stricker were among the many winning combinations for the U.S.
Sullivan/Getty Images

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Isn’t it strange how just a couple years ago, American golf took a hit as being too self-centered to win at team competition? The theory was, U.S. players dominated Singles play but could never jell in the Four-ball and Foursome matches because Americans only cared about their personal records.

The individual name of players was stitched on the back of the U.S. hats while Team Europe or International Team was on the back of the hats from the opposition.

There was just no unity on the American team.

Well in The Presidents Cup and last year’s Ryder Cup, the U.S. team won the team competition while losing the singles play.

Why?

I don’t have an answer other than the vagaries of the game. Should U.S. golf fans be concerned with close losses in Singles competition the last two years? I would suggest the sample size is too small to draw any conclusions but it is a certainty, the development of the game in Asia will produce quality players and increased competition for American golfers.

That news should not depress U.S. golf fans. They should revel in the better competition; which will result in more intriguing tournaments.

Observations

Injured: Tiger Woods looked injured as he left the golf course Saturday night and appeared in pain during Sunday’s matches. He constantly stretched his back and grimaced after impact. Woods said the back spasms he experienced last month had flared again and anticipated rest, plus therapy, would provide relief.

Dufnering: Fred Couples had no problem singling out his best player. He said Jason Dufner was hitting it “crazy good” and claiming he, personally, had never hit it as well as the PGA champion this week. Dufner took all the drama out of his match with a 4 and 3 win against Brendon de Jonge. He hit 48 of 61 greens this week and 39 of 46 fairways.

Impressive: There were other players with better records but nobody impressed me more than Hideki Matsuyama. He was the only player for either team that had never seen Muirfield Village before this week and he played like a veteran. Matsuyama possesses enormous physical talent with a very deliberate tempo in both his swing and putting stroke. He’s just 21 years old, but I can see Hideki becoming the first player from Japan to win a major championship in the future. Among the other players that are new to international team competition who impressed were Graham DeLaet and de Jonge. I’m not referring to any tournament stats here, just my own observations. I would expect PGA TOUR victories in their futures.

Format: I figured the depth of the U.S. Team was worth about a point per day and that’s just about how the final total played out. Officials from the International Team will probably once again ask the format be reconsidered. With every player on each team competing three of the four days, it rewards the depth of the U.S. Team. The present format of the Presidents Cup identifies the best team, but the Ryder Cup format could make for closer competition.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

 

 

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