INCHEON, South Korea – Nick Price didn’t mince words Tuesday in declaring that the 11th edition of the Presidents Cup that begins Thursday at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club will be the most important in the young history of the biennial competition.
“I’m not going to say ‘what if,’ but this better be closely contested,” Price, the International Team captain, said ominously. “I’m not going to tell you what the repercussions [could be]. I’ll let you guys figure it out.
“It’s hard for these guys. You ask them to give up a week out of their year and to play in an event that is not competitive? This is a huge week out of their schedule this time of year. They can easily dump this week if they wanted to. But they don’t want to do that. They want to play in an event that is competitive.”
The United States leads the biennial competition 8-1-1, and since a 17-17 tie in South Africa in 2003, the Americans have won the last five by no fewer than three points, including two years ago at Muirfield Village GC in Columbus, Ohio, where the home squad led by six points going into singles and then held off the Internationals on Sunday.
“I’m not going to tell you what the repercussions [could be]," Price said. "I’ll let you guys figure it out."
In an effort to make the matches more competitive, Price argued vehemently on behalf of his prospective team members to have the points structure altered for the 11th edition of the biennial matches. It’s an argument Price’s predecessor, Greg Norman, broached in 2011 and one veterans Adam Scott and Ernie Els continued to press prior to Muirfield Village.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem finally acquiesced, reducing the total points from 34 to 30 with the stipulation that each member of the respective 12-man teams play twice prior to the 12 singles matches. That’s two points fewer than Price sought; 28 points is the standard in the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, both of which came down to the wire as the visiting team overcame four-point deficits in singles.
“What is the root of the problem? That’s what we tried to address,” Price said of reducing the number of matches.
“I’m flabbergasted by the record of 8-1-1,” U.S. captain Jay Haas said. “You look at the strength of their team and I never would have expected us to have that kind of success.”
Price didn’t say that his International team must win this week. He just seeks a closer competition, one that could produce a stirring finish that could come down to a potential clash between Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, the top two players in the world.
“Could you imagine how great that would be for the Presidents Cup?” Price mused. “The absolute perfect scenario would be Jordan and Jason playing in the final group coming down the 18th hole with the whole thing tied up. Then who is going to complain about a point change?
“This is about the Presidents Cup. It isn’t about individuals,” Price added “I’ll say it again: this is a big, big Presidents Cup. This one needs to be competed closely. It needs to come down to the wire.”