By ANDREW BOTH
Thursday, December 13, 2018
A quarter century after the Presidents Cup began with high hopes that it would one day rival the Ryder Cup as golf's premier team event, it remains a relative minnow on the global calendar after a series of one-sided U.S. victories.
Created by the U.S.-based PGA Tour, the Presidents Cup largely copied the Ryder Cup format.
Yet, instead of the United States playing Europe, the Americans were pitted against an International team comprising players from the rest of the world.
The 13th staging of the biennial event will be held at Royal Melbourne starting exactly a year from Wednesday, and a glance at the respective world rankings of the likely players suggests that the Americans are poised to continue their dominance.
"I fear for the immediate future of the Presidents Cup," New Zealander Frank Nobilo, who played on the first three International teams, said.
The Americans have lost just once, at Royal Melbourne in 1998, while the 2003 event in South Africa was drawn.
That makes it seven losses in a row for the Internationals, who for the most part have been outclassed by the U.S. juggernaut.
There was, however, an expectation that, over time, golf would become more global, which would gradually improve the depth of the International team as more players emerged from various corners of the world.
That has not panned out.
Moreover, Australia and South Africa have regressed, no longer turning out the large production line of world-class players of previous decades.
Zimbabwe's Nick Price and Australia's Greg Norman were ranked first and second in the world at the end of 1994, respectively, while there were five other International players in the top 20.
The current world rankings are dominated by Americans and Europeans.
There are no Internationals in the top 10 and only two in the top 20 as of Dec. 2 - Australians Jason Day (13th) and Marc Leishman (19th).
The United States has 12 players ranked in the top 18, hardly a comforting thought for International captain Ernie Els.
If there is hope for the International team this year, it lies in the venue, Royal Melbourne, site of the only American loss 20 years ago, though the visitors got their revenge there in 2011.
Home-course advantage has traditionally been huge in the Presidents Cup.
The Americans have won all seven times at home, by an average margin of 5.6 points.
That might just give the Internationals some reason for optimism next year, yet if it turns into another American cakewalk, nobody will be the slightest bit surprised.