#AskAlan, Presidents Cup Edition
With thoughts about Tom Kim going to LIV (gasp!), giving JT gimmes, Homa as a neo-Poulter, which Americans make it to Rome, LIV FOMO and the perennial question: is Spieth back?
By Alan Shipnuck
Sept. 26, 2022
Given this exact moment, would Tom Kim going to LIV be worse than Cam Smith going after the Open? @MaintenanceBarn
It would definitely be a gut punch and a grim reminder to the PGA Tour, and golf fans, that every great achievement in the game can be reduced to a bargaining ploy with LIV. But the quote of the year in golf belongs to Max Homa: “You can’t buy my goals and my dreams.” What Tom Kim just experienced cannot be replicated at a LIV event with 50,000 folks watching on YouTube. For all the press conference bluster and all the money the PGA Tour is funneling to top players in a desperate attempt to buy their loyalty, I believe the good mojo and deep emotion around this Presidents Cup is the single greatest recruiting tool the Tour now has.
Should anyone ever give JT a gimme again? @EatandSleepGolf
Certainly not, and I doubt he’ll get one after this latest display of petulance, as Justin Thomas has once again gifted his opponents a roadmap on how to get in his head. He is off to a spectacular start in his team career, having produced a whopping 17.5 points in five Ryder/Presidents Cup appearances, but it’s time for Thomas to grow up and stop expecting anyone to give him anything in these grudge matches.
The USA has now won the President Cup nine times in a row. Will this continue to be a horrible product that was developed so the PGA Tour could make more money off the players?#AskAlan @TheGhostofhogan
I don’t know, the last Presidents Cup, at Royal Melbourne, was a banger. The 2015 Cup was a nail-biter that ended 15.5-14.5. So I’m not sure how horrible the product has been of late; it’s certainly been more fun and competitive than the last four Ryder Cups. It’s a bummer the inexperienced, underdog Internationals seemed a little overwhelmed this time around on Day 1, ending any suspense about the outcome. But the golf that followed was spirited, and there were plenty of indelible moments. I mean, it was certainly better than having to watch football.
Is Max Homa the new American Poulter? @frazerrice
Nah, he’s too likable. And that’s coming from someone who has always enjoyed Poulter. But during the Ryder Cup, Poults morphed into a preening, scowling badass who was soooo easy to root against. Homa played with fire and conviction, but he is so well-established as one of the good guys that it’s hard to imagine any fan base truly hating him.
Definitely! It’s hard to imagine South Korea could do anything in the political arena that would improve its global standing more than its four players did at the Prez Cup, with their tenacity, spunk and good cheer. The idea that Tom Kim or Sungjae Im or Si Woo Kim are going to lose two years of their career and possibly fall into the abyss (see Sangmoon Bae) is depressing in the extreme. They can serve their country honorably by making par, not war.
What’s this realistically look like without LIV? The American team I enjoyed without the LIV boys and DJ is probably the only elite guy who was missing for them. But the Internationals with Cam Smith and Joaquin Niemann seems a lot more competitive. @bradleyrog
Imagine this U.S. team with a red-hot Dustin Johnson instead of Kevin Kisner—that is an all-time powerhouse. But if we sub in Smith and Niemann for Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith (both of whom went 0-4!), and Louis Oosthuizen for Mito Pereira (0-2-1), and add Abe Ancer for depth and firepower, the Internationals are a completely different team. The U.S still wins, but I think it would have been a death match.
What a gutty performance! It would have been cinematic if Kang had won the LPGA event in Arkansas, but it’s a victory for her just to be back in the mix. Kang has been tight-lipped about her medical ordeal, but we now know she had a tumor on her spine, which sounds quite concerning. She has a rare mix of gritty grind and starpower, so getting her back in fighting shape is a big deal for the LPGA.
How many majors will Charlie Woods win? @JohnAPBrennan
Gawd, did you see the mitts on that kid? He has grown a lot since the Father-Son last December and clearly still has a ways to go. The good genes come from both sides; mom Elin was by all accounts a very good soccer player. Obviously Charlie is going to have every advantage learning the game, but unique pressures too. He’ll certainly never get hardened by being an outsider like his dad did coming up. So many great jocks have tried to turn their kids into athletic powerhouses, and only a tiny fraction make it to the big leagues, let alone become stars. I’ll set the over/under on Charlie’s major championship haul at one, and the under is probably the smart bet. But I’d love to be wrong.
Are people really starting to call what Kisner did this weekend—be on the winning team but not contribute—a “Perez?” @fakePOULTER
If they’re not, they damn well should be.
How about we add a team element to every tournament? Oh, wait. Someone is already trying that. The Cups are just unique because the competitors are playing for something bigger than themselves, and I’m not talking about money or 4 Aces merch. And they spend all week incubating brotherhood and team spirit in a way that is impossible to replicate every week among rugged individualists. So I think we’re only going to get this once a year, but that’s what makes the palpable emotion so much fun.
Last President’s Cup had Royal Melbourne and Tiger. The latter is probably gone for good. But can’t America do better than a nice but ho-hum parkland course we already see every year? @HenriDeMarsay #AskAlan
I’ve always felt like the Cup venue is not that important because the players are competing against each other, not par. But Royal Melbourne is so stimulating and asks such interesting questions, and on reflection, it definitely added another layer of intrigue to the matches. The boring front nine at Quail Hollow was partially responsible for the sleepy vibe for much of these matches. Medinah in ’26 might have felt the same way, but Geoff Ogilvy is overseeing an overhaul that will make the course much livelier. Beyond that, we just have to hope the Tour thinks outside the box and gives us more compelling playing fields.
Only if there is a larger detente between the Tour and LIV Golf. That remains a possibility, but a lot has to happen to get there, including a change in leadership. Short of that, the Tour is going to continue taking a hard line because it must.
A mix of FOMO, regret and defiance. Those guys (and others) knew what they were giving up when they took the LIV money, but it’s one thing in theory and another when you see your former band of brothers having so much fun without you. However, I’ve spent enough time at LIV events to know those players have cultivated an acute sense of us-versus-them. Professional golf has become so tribal I doubt many LIV players will publicly express misgivings, even if they exist.
Will Zalatoris replacing Kisner is an easy call, if Z’s back injury doesn’t derail him. Billy Horschel is a marginal candidate going forward and given Cam Young’s putting problems, maybe he gets beaten out by a Daniel Berger or Sahith Theegala heater. But otherwise the core of this U.S. team looks locked and loaded.
Is Spieth back? @mickelsonesque
Oh, gawd, the perennial question. It’s so fascinating because it is unanswerable. Jordan’s genius ebbs and flows like the tide. Just enjoy what was a transcendent week! He will undoubtedly be lost in the wilderness soon enough. It is this eternal search that makes the Spieth experience so fun and maddening.