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Presidents Cup's anticlimactic ending great for U.S., not for audience

October 01, 2017
The Presidents Cup - Final Round

Sam Greenwood

Taking a knee gave way to taking a nap, at least in golf circles on Sunday, when the final day of the Presidents Cup was, well, a Jersey snore.

Even at its best, golf is television’s ultimate nap sport, a game that plods along at a pace that would permit a 20-minute snooze with the virtual assurance that you would miss nothing.

Then came Sunday, after the Presidents Cup outcome essentially had been decided on Saturday. This presented a test for NBC, facing a six-hour window to be filled by 12 more or less meaningless matches en route to a seventh straight U.S. victory.

How’d it do? As well as could be expected given the circumstances with which it was presented, an 11-point U.S. lead entering singles play on Sunday. "The matches were over, let's face it," NBC's Johnny Miller confessed only after the Presidents Cup had concluded.

NBC’s Dan Hicks had a tough sell, though not an impossible one, when at the top of the show Sunday morning he laid out the case for putting in a six-hour shift in front of a television.

“We alluded to the fact yesterday that this could turn out to be one of the greatest teams ever assembled, this U.S. Presidents Cup team,” he said. “But in order to really be thought of in that way, don’t you have to kind of finish it off in these singles matches to put the final exclamation point on it all?”

“Absolutely, they’ve got to finish it off,” Johnny Miller replied. “No doubt about it. Captain [Steve] Stricker wants them to come out and put the pedal down and keep it down.”

Instead, the U.S. coasted to victory, putting a period, rather than an exclamation point, on it.

On Saturday night, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee noted that when great athletes (or horses) put on dominating performances, compelling routs boring. On Sunday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., the U.S. was unable to maintain its momentum. It even clinched its victory in a ho-hum manner, as Golf World managing editor Ryan Herrington noted on Twitter:

Miller, meanwhile, conceded the waning intensity as the day wore on.

“The Americans are letting a couple go here late, Johnny,” Hicks said.

“I know,” Miller said. “They’re trying hard. But part of me is, ‘ey, we won, you know?’”

In the end, it was simply a great team, but not the greatest, not yet, anyway. It came up short on its quest to become the first team to win all five sessions. The International team won 7 ½ of 12 points in Sunday’s singles.

An anticlimactic conclusion playing out over six hours is great for the winners, but far less so for the audience.