Why the International Team Needs to Win the 2013 Presidents Cup

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 02:  Jack Nicklaus (R) poses with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem after the 2013 President's Cup was awarded to the Muirfield Village Golf Club prior to the start of the 2010 Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on April 2, 2010 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

How can the Presidents Cup emerge from the long shadow cast by its older, far superior brother, the Ryder Cup?

The International team can absolutely demolish the Americans this week at Muirfield Village.

The Presidents Cup began in 1994, and since that time the American side has a 7-1-1 record while the International side is 1-1-7. The International Team’s sole Presidents Cup victory came nearly 15 years ago at Royal Melbourne.

And this thing hasn’t even been close. The American side has won the last four consecutive matches with an average margin of victory of 4.25 points.

Two years ago many believed that the tide would finally begin turning towards the International side. The 2011 matches were held at Royal Melbourne. Australian Greg Norman was the captain and the team contained five Australians (Jason Day, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley). It was the closest that the International side had ever come to a true home field advantage, yet it still was not to be.

The Americans thrashed the Internationals 19-15 and the Presidents Cup was all but over on Saturday afternoon when the Americans jumped out to a 13-9 lead heading into Sunday’s singles matches.

For any true sports rivalry to develop there must be a give and take. Each side must win their fair share of games, tournaments, events, etc. and there must be at least some form of heated competition when the two sides face off against one another.

When one side completely dominates a competition, there is almost no chance that a rivalry will develop; while on the other side of the coin there is an excellent chance that fans will simply lose all interest in the competition.

"The Internationals need to step up and win the thing and make it a real competition," Adam Scott told Agence France-Presse. "This is a big year for us. It's our time ... I think it's crucial. We have to win this year. The Cup loses any credibility whatsoever if (the Internationals) don't start winning soon."

Scott is 100 percent correct in his statement.

Forget about the formation of any kind of America vs. Internationals rivalry, in order for the Presidents Cup to even survive the International side must, at the very least, start putting up a decent fight in these biennial matches.  

People tend to forget that not very long ago the Ryder Cup was in a position very similar to the Presidents Cup.

The American side had won 13 consecutive Ryder Cup matches between 1959 and 1983.

Heck, Tom Weiskopf decided to go on a hunting trip rather than even take part in 1977 Ryder Cup matches. That is how little these matches meant to many players at that time.

Jack Nicklaus begged the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour to open up the matches to all of Europe rather than just Great Britain and Ireland, as he knew that a more evenly balanced competition was the only way for the Ryder Cup to survive.

The PGA of America and European PGA Tour finally took action on Nicklaus’ idea in 1979 and the European side won for the first time in 26 years at the Belfry in 1985.

The initial win by Europe in 1985 caused the golf world to at least wake up and take notice.  But it wasn’t until 1987 when the Europeans defeated the Americans on US soil that the Ryder Cup truly became THE RYDER CUP.

And not only did the European side win for the first time on U.S. soil in 1987, they won in Jack Nicklaus’ own backyard at Muirfield Village while Nicklaus himself was the captain of the American side.

Ironically, Muirfield Village is also the site of this year’s Presidents Cup.

For the Presidents Cup to become more than a glorified exhibition match amongst 24 men who are friendly neighbors in Florida, Arizona, Texas, etc. a similar path must be taken.

And it would all start with the international side annihilating the Americans this week at the very same site where the Ryder Cup first began to morph into the heated biennial rivalry we are all familiar with today.

If PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem really wants this thing to succeed, heck, if he even wants this thing to survive, he’ll show up on the first tee Thursday wearing an International Team cap while hoping that history can repeat itself at Muirfield Village.

The Presidents Cup is now entering a pivotal stage in its existence, and if this competition is to survive, the International side must come to play this week.