Start of the Presidents Cup, the tournament most anticipated by golfers around the world
A few hours before the start of a new edition of the Presidents Cup it is worth reviewing part of the history of the event and basically finding out the reasons for its creation.
In the second half of the 1980s, two events happened simultaneously that ignited the spark in the mind of the commissioner of the PGA Tour. The first of these was the explosion that the Ryder Cup when in 1985 the Europeans defeated the Americans for the first time in a very long time. Two years later, and now on American soil, those from the Old Continent won their first visitor victory and the Ryder Cup became the most important golfing event in the world. The second reason was the appearance of great players from other parts of the world who had started to win major championships and climbed to the top of the world rankings. Australians Greg Norman, Steve Elkington, Craig Parry and Robert Allenby, South African David Frost, Fijian Vijay Singh and Zimbabwean Nick Price were the hosts of major championships and the American public was beginning to realize that golf was played also in other parts of the world.
The Ryder Cup is owned and organized by the PGA of America. The PGA Tour has nothing to do with it. and it’s only his players who are part of the event, but in terms of business, the tour “sees it”. The latter, along with the two reasons mentioned above, prompted Deane Beman to start putting together a new event in his head, one that would be wholly owned by the PGA Tour and pit the top 12 players in the United States against 12 best in the rest of the world, outside Europe. This is how the Presidents Cup was born, which had its first edition in 1994.
The place of this first confrontation was the course of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club located on the outskirts of the city of Washington. A spectacular club, with a very good field built on the shores of Lake Manassas. PGA Championship and US Open winner David Graham of Australia was voted captain of Team International, while the locals were captained by three-time US Open winner Hale Irwin. Two curiosities of this first edition: the first was that the best international player of the time, Greg Norman, had not been able to participate because a few weeks before he had broken his arm. The second had Eduardo Romero as the protagonist. The “Gato” was playing in Europe at the time and had won the Italian Open that year, but Graham opted for fellow countryman Bradley Hughes who had a much lower world ranking than the Cordovan. It was a shame because everyone saw Romero as a much better candidate to complete Team International.
To differ somewhat from the Ryder Cup, the organizers decided that instead of 28 points at stake there would be 32 and so very early on a Friday, September 16, 1994, the Presidents Cup began. Better said, not very early, as heavy fog covered the playing field and tee times were delayed for over an hour. Byron Nelson, golf legend from the United States, was present on the 1st hole to welcome the players and declare the event open.
The Singh/Elkington couple faced Maggert/Pavin and they were responsible for opening the contest. This first session ended with a resounding 5-0 in favor of the Americans. The afternoon matches, alternating shots, showed a recovery from the internationals who got 2 ½ and stopped the fall. On Saturday morning the visitors again played well, making 3 ½ of 5 and closing the gap, but the hosts won the afternoon session 3-2 and reached the final day with a 4 dots. Sunday’s singles confirmed the dominance of the United States and the final score was 20-12 in favor of the hosts.
Thus was born a new event that over time will become one of the most awaited by golfers around the world. The following edition took place again on the same stage and it was not until 1998 that it left the United States to join Australia. The famous and prodigious ground of Royal Melbourne was the seat of the Presidents Cup and on this occasion the only victory of the internationals was recorded, which with the participation of the Paraguayan Carlos Franco, the first Latino to be part of the team, they overwhelmed the Americans led by Jack Nicklaus, with the end result 20½ to 11½.
This year, the Presidents Cup is taking place in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina and one of the very best courses in the United States: the Quail Hollow Golf Club, which hosts a PGA Tour tournament every year, will be the scene of the 14th edition of the cup. In tomorrow’s column, we explore who the protagonists will be and how they can follow each instance of the Presidents Cup.
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