Commentary: Modern Era Mandates Creation of True Golf World Cup

The Ryder Cup pits the United States against Europe in an antiquated rivalry that no longer holds water in the modern golf game.  The President’s Cup pits the United States against the rest of the world less Europe in a contest that makes even less sense and was created simply to include non-Europe in team competition.  The game has grown, it has extended across nation and continent, and it now time to do what every world sport does: create a truly viable World Cup.  Not only to provide entertainment but to celebrate the growth of the game in nations like Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Italy…etc.  “Europe” is no longer producing great golf talent.  England is.  Northern Ireland, Spain and Italy are.

I know, I know.  There is already the silly two-v-two competition at Omega Hills which no one watches and has about one millionth the weight of the Ryder and President Cups.  But as always, your fearless leader here at TOS has a solution to the World Cup issue that will create one of the most exciting events in the world of golf.

First, the number of players on each national side is key and that number should be four.  Why?  Because having two terrific players in your nation does not make you a terrific golfing nation.  But if you have two terrific players, chances are you’ll gain qualification under my model anyway.  Here is that model:

8 nations are selected to participate.  Using the official world rankings, the top four ranked players of each country’s rankings are tallied and the lowest eight figures are selected.  Those four players, barring injury, make up the nation’s side.  If that model were used today, using the post-Masters rankings, the following nine sides would be competing for a position(total ranking points in parentheses):

#1 USA – Woods, Mickelson, Stricker, Kuchar (27)
#2 ENG – Westwood, Donald, Casey, Poulter (28)
#3 SOUTH AFRICA – Schwartzel, Els, Goosen, Oosthuizen (75)
#4 AUSTRALIA – Scott, Ogilvy, Day, Allenby (102)
#5 KOREA – Choi, Yang, Kyung-Tae, Seung-Yul (175)
# 6 JAPAN – Ishikawa, Fujita, Ikeda, Taniguchi (238)
# 7 SPAIN – Quiros, Jimenez, Garcia, Bello (250)
#8 NORTHERN IRELAND – McDowell, McIlroy, Clarke, Maybin (252)
#9 SWEDEN – Karlsson, Hansen, Stenson, Andersson Hed (254)

Here are some thoughts of this selection process:

  • Northern Ireland is clinging to the 8 seed even though they have two players in the top ten.  They are relying on Darren Clarke and Gareth Maybin to gain entrance.
  • You’d create a competition wherein three nations would know they had an opportunity to make the cut and you would see their golfers in competitions with better fields, creating better tournaments throughout the year.
  • The United States and England are separated by one ranking point.  Rivalry is born.
  • Italy is nowhere to be found.  The Molinari brothers and Matteo simply don’t have a fourth player to make them competitive currently.  The involvement in a tournament such as this would encourage nations to develop younger talent.

The format of the competition would be simple:

  1. The tournament would take place over two consecutive weekends, on two separate courses, in one country.
  2. There would be two groups of four teams each. (With each side bringing an alternate.)
  3. The first three rounds of the first weekend would be match-play, round robin style.  Each player will play one member of the other nations in his group, based on a random drawing before the start.
  4. Three points for a match won.  One point for a draw.
  5. On Sunday, the Group A winner faces the Group B runner-up and vice versa in match play foursomes (fourballs), also drawn randomly.  The tie-breaker, should the nations split, is total hole differential.
  6. The second weekend would involve the two sides adding the alternate, bringing their total to five.  Over the four rounds, every one of the competitors would be matched up.  Same points system.

Think of the excitement an event like this would create in the eight nations participating (and even in the non-qualifying nations).  If held every four years, the tournament would only gain in prestige and attention.  Qualification could be altered to include the nation of any golfer winning a major.  The tournament could easily grow from 8 to 16 within a tournament or two.  As nations around the globe (China, Colombia, India) begin to produce more and more gifted golfers, what an opportunity this would be to present these talents on a grand stage.  Never seen Arjun Atwal play?  Here he is head-to-head against Lee Westwood.

Do I think this will happen?  Most likely not.  Golf is a game where the word antiquated need not apply.  It is a game drenched in its own history and incapable of drying off, no matter how bright the sun doth shine.  But I hold out hope.  Sport is never better than during international competition and golf, especially match-play, creates a terrific team atmosphere.  The Golf World Cup title would be a trophy nation’s treasure and golfers clamor to attain.  It would be an event that after only its second or third playing could rival The Masters.

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