Fred Couples & Greg Norman both want the Presidents Cup
The 2011 Presidents Cup opens play from one of the world's most challenging golf courses, Royal Melbourne.
The U.S. team won the 2009 Presidents Cup held at Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
Each side consists of 10 members who qualified to earn their spot on the team. The captains picked an additional two members to round out the 12-member teams.
In eight previous Presidents Cup competitions, the International Team has won outright only once, and that was at Royal Melbourne in 1998. The teams tied in the 2003 matches from South Africa with the American team retaining the Presidents Cup.
International Team captain, Greg Norman, was a member of that winning team in 1998.
Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so the matches can be broadcast live in prime time in the States.
The team matches begin on Thursday (Wednesday evening in the U.S.) on the Golf Channel with six Foursome matches (alternate shot).
Six four-ball (best ball) matches will be held on Friday. Team matches continue on Saturday, with a double-session of five foursome matches in the morning session and five four-ball matches in the afternoon. This gives the captains a chance to let some of the players sit out and rest.
The matches conclude on Sunday with 12 singles matches.
A point is awarded for each win and a half point is awarded for each tie. No points are earned for a loss. A total of 34 points are available and it will take 17½ points to win the Cup outright.
Tiger Woods & Ex-caddy Steve Williams
Tiger Woods is always the main story in any tournament that he graces with his presence.
His recent firing of longtime caddie Steve Williams and the rather nasty remarks made by Williams only add fuel to the over all storyline.
Woods is coming off one of his best finishes in over two years, third place at the Australian Open last week.
His game has been suspect due to injuries, swing changes, and well-publicized personal problems. His swing seems to be solid and his confidence returning, however.
He has the best record in Presidents Cup history and was 5-0 at the last Presidents Cup at Harding Park.
Fred Couples has been soundly criticized for picking Woods with one of his two captain's picks. Woods did not play well enough to earn his spot. The pressure is on Woods to prove the media wrong and help get captain Couples off of the hot seat.
International Team Captain Greg Norman
PGA Hall of Fame member Greg Norman is a living legend in Australia. He was the world's No. 1 ranked player for 331 weeks during his playing career. He won two British Opens, 20 PGA Tour tournaments and 88 worldwide tournaments and had seven second-place finishes in major championships.
The "Great White Shark" was a member of three International Presidents Cup Teams. He played on the 1998 team that defeated the American Team at Royal Melbourne.
Norman has taken several verbal shots at Tiger Woods in the media over the past two months. He has questioned Fred Couples' choice of Woods as a captain's pick. Norman has vowed to take a more active and aggressive role in this year's competition. He badly wants to garner a win for the International Team.
It will be interesting to watch Norman throughout the matches and study the pairings that he puts out against the U.S. Team.
Steve Stricker blasts from the sand
Steve Stricker has been battling a neck injury that affects the strength in his left arm. He has not played competitively since the end of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He says that he is healthy and ready to play. He is the key partner for Tiger Woods, and the U.S. Team badly needs Striker's steady, conservative style of play.
Hunter Mahan withdrew from last week's Australian Open with a slight shoulder injury. He also confirms that he is healthy and ready for action the the Presidents Cup.
If either Mahan or Stricker are unable to play or perform at their peak it will be a severe blow to the American Team's chances to bring home a victory.
Australian Geoff Ogilvy
The International Team captain chose two native Australians, Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby, to round out the team.
In addition to Baddeley and Allenby, the International Team includes Australians Adam Scott, No. 7 OWGR ranked, Jason Day, ranked No. 8, as well as, Royal Melbourne member Geoff Ogilvy.
Home-field advantage is a definite plus for the International Team.
South Africans, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen add veteran experience to calm the International Team's rookies.
Royal Melbourne is a McKenzie Design
Royal Melbourne is a large part of the storyline for this week's Presidents Cup.
It was originally laid out and designed by famed golf course architect Dr. Alister McKenzie, who also designed Augusta National and Cypress Points. The course is a composite of The East and West Courses and will offer a stern test for the players.
Wide inviting fairways to lightning quick and severely undulating greens put a premium on approach shots. Hitting a certain part of the green is important to leave a manageable putt. Missing a green long will leave almost impossible up-and-downs.
The greens running at 13-14 on the stimpmeter will test even the best putters.
Viewers will want to watch where the players try to position their shots into the greens and manage their way around the Royal Melbourne.