A lot is on the line at the Presidents Cup.
Really! No really!
The very relevance of Team USA vs. The World (Except Europe) is on the line at Incheon City, an uber-modern port city near Seoul. The Presidents Cup as an interesting, must-watch event in non-Ryder Cup years hinges on the play of International’s headliners (Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama) and emerging talents (Anirban Lahiri, Danny Lee, Marc Leishman, Sang-Moon Bae). The matches don’t have to provide thrills comparable to the 2003 classic in South Africa, but need to be close enough that the Cup isn’t decided before Sunday singles.
“I think everybody in golf understands that this can be a very positive thing for the game provided that the matches become competitive,” said Notah Begay, part of the NBC/Golf Channel team this week. “I feel like it's pivotal for this match to be close in order to keep the interest of the players, most importantly, but also the golf fans around the world.”
A little human drama would be nice, too.
As the recent Solheim Cup reminded us, fireworks are inevitable when modern professionals are forced to deal with the confrontational nature of match play. Throw in the presence of the world’s two best players in Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, and there's the potential for on-course excitement.
But for the 2015 Presidents Cup to be memorable, the event needs the feisty, petty and peculiar melodrama that pops up at these cups. Word is that USA Captain Jay Haas isn’t particularly thrilled that International lead cart driver Nick Price got his way with a reduction in the number of matches, all with a closer competition in mind. Still, it’s hard to imagine these two All-First Team Gentlemen side-swiping their carts and throwing down their walkie talkies before breaking out in a fistfight.
The Presidents Cup’s relevance is also in play due to the selection of Jack Nicklaus GC in Incheon City, which means much of the event will be played in oddball hours for American viewers. That’d be fine if it was to get a competition played on a course the caliber of Royal Melbourne, but JNGC isn’t on many bucket lists and doesn’t have a must-see TV vibe.
Future venues aren’t helping matters, with been-there-done-that vibes surrounding Liberty National (2017) and Quail Hollow (2021), both PGA Tour venues that bring little of the sizzle delivered by Presidents Cup venues such as Royal Montreal, Royal Melbourne and Muirfield Village.
Here is a preview video of the Incheon City, a intriguing modern shipping and business center that will provide the 2015 Presidents Cup backdrop.
Now, about the viewing schedule. West Coast viewers who like fall prime-time golf will be in heaven. East coasters? It’s not pretty.
Golf Channel/NBC is all in with 60 hours of total coverage, including 25 hours devoted to the matches and all of the usual bookend analysis on Live From and Morning Drive.
Here is the all important viewing guide to telecast times. As always, all times Eastern because those in other time zones are better at math:
Wednesday, Oct. 7: Presidents Cup – Day 1 (Foursomes) 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Golf Channel
Thursday, Oct. 8: Presidents Cup – Day 2 (Four-Ball) 8:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Golf Channel
Friday, Oct. 9: Presidents Cup – Day 3 6 p.m.-4 a.m. Golf Channel
Saturday, Oct. 10: Presidents Cup – Final Day (Singles) 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Golf Channel
Sunday, Oct. 11: Presidents Cup - Final Day Re-Air Noon-6 p.m. NBC
If Match Play Isn’t Your Thing…
The European Tour’s British Masters returns, meaning the Queen can levy a few more taxes on her nation’s best athletes! Many of the UK’s best have resisted making too many appearances in the homeland due to tax reasons surrounding the number of days one competes on English, Scottish and Northern Irish soil. That made restoring the lost British Masters a little more complicated. But it’s back!
Ian Poulter, who is a Woburn Golf Club member and even has his own parking space, is unofficial host of the event’s return to a course where previous British Masters winners include Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and the last time Woburn hosted in 2002, Justin Rose.
Word is the event is essentially sold out and Woburn’s narrow, ancient-tree lined fairways should be augmented by fans eager to see some English countryside golf again. The Marquess Course, designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark with European Golf Design, opened in 2000.
Poulter is such a Woburn homer, he even introduced the club’s new short game facility in this YouTube video.