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The Loop

World Cup: Why?

December 05, 2008

Golf World reader Ron Dunlap, of Richmond,  wrote what many of you were thinking--if you were thinking of the World Cup at all. It ended last Sunday, by the way. Sweden won and we didn't, which prompted Mr. Dunlap's letter.


Why do we bother with the World Cup? I think it's a great tournament, but if we are not going to send some of our best players, why bother.  I remember with it was Palmer/Nicklaus and Couples/Love and although I like Brandt Snedeker and Ben Curtis, they are certainly not on a level with some of the teams other countries sent.


Good question, Ron.  Why, indeed?  By way of a response, I offer the coverage of the event as published by the Bangkok Post:

__Mission Hills, China (Agencies) - Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson produced a magnificent three-stroke victory for Sweden at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup after shooting a nine-under-par 63 in the final round foursomes on Sunday. __

Thongchai Jaidee and partner Prayad Marksaeng had three brilliant days but fell to a 73 on Friday and finished tied for seventh place with South Africa - but one place ahead odf the USA team.

It's that second paragraph that tells the story. The Thai team, the Bangkok Post points, finished seventh. *Not bad! *What's more, they finished ahead of the American team, despite one poor round. We beat the Americans!

We can look at this event as embarrassing loss or we can look at it as an extremely effective promotion of the game internationally--in which case we can't lose. I think we sent a pretty fair team that had the misfortune to have play their worst--73--on Sunday when the Swedes did their best--63. The Americans shot 64 on Thursday, so they were perfectly capable of winning the thing. What's more, as Tiger's absence at the Ryder Cup reminded us, it's not necessarily having the best team on paper that means having the best team. (Though we'd love to have you back, Tiger).

But you know all of this. The fact is, we participated in a great old event in a great new golfing venue, China,  that will one day have more golfers than we do.  We promoted the game with our presence. We promoted the game by sending two personable young players who contended, though didn't win, in two of our majors this year. We even promoted the game with our seventh-place finish. Sometimes we Americans do our best work when we're not winning. And we beat Scotland, that distinguished old golf power.

In another paragraph from that Bangkok Post story, Robert Karlsson, who teamed with Henrik Stenson for the win, said:


"It means very much to win for the country. This has always been an event in Sweden that's been big. To play for your country is great. If you look on the trophy, there's many impressive pairings on there. I hope we can look back on it in the future and say the same about us playing here."


In the coming years the health of our game depends on more golfers in more countries, not fewer in less. Which is why the major associations in golf have finally united to support golf in the Olympics. I'm thinking the World Cup helps with that, even when the Americans don't win.

By the way, India and China tied for 17th. They beat Scotland, too.

--Bob Carney