Presidents Cup 2013: US Win Shows Stranglehold on Competition Will Continue
After a fifth straight Presidents Cup loss to the United States, the Internationals couldn't get away from waterlogged Muirfield Village Golf Club fast enough on Sunday.
Considering the Americans' ideal mix of talented veterans at the top of their games and promising young stars just getting started, they can't be eagerly awaiting the next couple installments of the international competition very much, either.
The United States didn't just win the 10th Presidents Cup this weekend at Muirfield; it essentially cruised past the talented-but-inexperienced Internationals, opening the singles portion of the competition with a stunning six-point margin en route to its anticlimactic 18.5 to 15.5 triumph.
Considering the Americans have now won eight of the 10 Presidents Cup matches and last lost the event 15 years ago, it's not a particularly surprising result.
Freddie Couples says 3-peat at the Presidents Cup is "good enough for me." Won't be captain in 2015, but says he'd be an assistant if asked— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) October 6, 2013
But given the way it played out and the vast number of golfers who made positive contributions to the victory, it makes for a very promising future for the United States to be sure.
Battling through multiple weather delays and at times spirited play by the visitors, the United States enjoyed solid performances from up and down its lineup at former captain Jack Nicklaus' home course.
Veterans Woods, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson were dialed in for three-time captain Fred Couples from start to finish, accounting for a combined 12.5 points. Woods led the way with four of those and claimed the winning point for the third straight time in the event.
Tiger clinches the winning Presidents Cup point for a third straight time.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) October 6, 2013
Meanwhile, rookies Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth brought energy and enthusiasm to the team, especially during marathon sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Sophomores Webb Simpson and Bill Haas also added crucial points to the effort along the way.
Even more importantly, those young golfers gained valuable experience in the pressure-packed world of match-play golf that will serve them well in future Presidents Cups as well as the Ryder Cup.
For International captain Nick Price, the bad news is the sum of those parts proved way too much for his team as the matches wore on into Saturday and Sunday. Even worse is the reality that the majority of those American golfers are going to be significant threats in multiple Presidents Cups to come.
"It was a tall order, but they gave it their best shot. These guys played their tails off," Price said, per the AP (via ESPN). "We're a real hodge-podge of a team that came together from four corners of the planet. And they gave the might of America a run for their money."
That's all well and good, but the veteran leadership that cleared the way for the United States at Muirfield this week isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Neither is its spirited youth.
Woods is only 37 and will likely play at least three more times in the international competition. At a youthful 43, Mickelson loves the match-play atmosphere, and Kuchar, who combined with Tiger to go 3-1 in foursomes and four-ball matches, is going to be around for quite a while.
Stricker is a question mark for 2015, but fellow veterans Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson are good bets to continue their stellar play.
It doesn't get better then this! pic.twitter.com/uEyML08mdT— Hunter Mahan (@HunterMahan) October 6, 2013
Add to that the promising futures of major champions Dufner and Bradley as well as Snedeker and 20-year-old Spieth, and the potential for a continued Presidents Cup dynasty is a promising one indeed. The likelihood of a breakthrough in Ryder Cup competition must be equally enticing for 2014 captain Tom Watson.
Will the Americans carry the momentum of another Presidents Cup victory into the 2014 Ryder Cup matches?
To be fair, Price started seven rookies this weekend, and several of them were strong throughout. Canadian Graham DeLaet was a leader from the get-go, as was Brendon de Jonge.
Hideki Matsuyama is a terrific talent, and Louis Oosthuizen played well in spots after a shaky season from a health standpoint. Along with veterans Adam Scott and Jason Day, each of those players will be fixtures in many Presidents Cups to come.
It's a stretch, however, to suggest they will be further along two years from now than Dufner, Spieth or Bradley in terms of career arc and accomplishments.
Bradley is only 27 years old and already owns a PGA Championship. Earlier this year, Spieth became the youngest golfer to win a PGA Tour event in 82 years and almost added another one later in the season. Dufner and Snedeker are absolutely entering the peak periods of their careers and have games built for match play.
That's not even taking into account the talent of other Americans like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, who didn't even make Couples' team this year.
That said, the reality is the only guarantee in international match-play competition is that there are no guarantees.
Focus, health and desire can change from year to year for even the best players in the world. Consider for a second that Tiger needed a captain's pick from Couples to make the 2011 Presidents Cup team.
That said, it's hard to debate that the current strength of its still-engaged veterans and the grand potential of its younger players don't suggest continued Presidents Cup dominance for the Americans.
Outwardly the Internationals aren't going to accept that. But following what they just witnessed at Muirfield this weekend, it might be a completely different story in a moment of absolute honesty.
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