Monday, October 05, 2009

PRESIDENTS CUP problem for Skipper Fred

The long and the short of it is ... Tiger Woods

is not a team player, and Couples knows it

How do you solve a problem like Tiger? That is the question facing captain Fred Couples ahead of the Presidents Cup in San Francisco, which starts on Thursday.
In 10 Presidents and Ryder Cups, Woods has only twice had a winning record in the four-balls and foursomes, but on each occasion he has then lost his singles.
Woods is not a team player.
It is almost as if the strain of finally learning how to play with a partner has exhausted Tiger. The gifted one has had no fewer than 16 separate partners in the course of his 10 matches for the United States, but his relationships keep ending in divorce.
Couples, one of the "divorcees," has an odd solution. He has drafted in Michael Jordan as a co-captain and has a guy called Matt Furman as the team magician. Apparently Robin Williams, and this is serious, had other commitments.
In other words, the Presidents Cup, the biennial bash between America and the International Team (or the Rest of the World. not including Europe) has an element of hit-and-giggle about it. Woods used the word "fun" six times when talking about the Presidents Cup. Anyone ever heard him use the word six times before a major?
But even if the Presidents Cup is the show on the end of the pier, Corey Pavin, the United States Ryder Cup captain, will still be looking at Tiger's performance with interest. So too will Europe's captain Colin Montgomerie. He knows that the United States looked far more of a Ryder Cup team when Tiger was missing last year.
Montgomerie said: "They won with him, they lost without him. You can't say: 'Damn it, the No 1 player's not playing', but Tiger in a 'bad' Ryder Cup (for him) will get a minimum of three points. I would rather they had someone who doesn't get three points."
Much of what Montgomerie said is nonsense.
Colin got the first sentence the wrong way round, and Tiger does not get you three points in a bad Ryder Cup. Three points is Tiger's best-ever performance in a Ryder Cup. But Montgomerie was unusually tongue-tied because he could not say what he really felt on the matter. He does not want to give Tiger an incentive. He does not want America to solve the problem.
Pavin has said: "Any time Tiger is paired with someone else, his influence is diminished. I watched him in 2006 and walked every step of the way with him the first two days of the matches. I looked into his eyes and I could see how much he wanted to win."
The problem remains not whether Tiger wants to win, but how to fit him into a team. Paul Azinger, the winning Ryder Cup captain in 2008, had US Navy SEAL 'buddy' pods of four players. Woods would have been slotted in with Boo Weekley, J B Holmes and Kenny Perry.
I think it was a brilliant strategy. Tiger would have been bunged in with the team of good ol' southern boys. In other words, he would have had to fit in.
Tiger has criticised Holmes in the past, but this time Tiger would have had to adapt. He would have been the outsider coming into the group.
Couples will not be anything like as cute as that. Everyone will have a great time. America will probably win, having never lost a Presidents Cup at home.
And Pavin will still be none the wiser about how to solve the Tiger problem.



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