Golf's all-time great prefers Presidents Cup, starting on Thursday, as it forces everyone in a team to play.
Nicklaus wants Ryder Cup to evolve
COLUMBUS // Jack Nicklaus, the Presidents Cup host, says he prefers the golf team event’s format to that of the Ryder Cup because more matches mean there is nowhere for players to hide.
The biennial golf showdown between US and International (non-European) teams starts on Thursday at Muirfield Village, the Nicklaus-designed course where the US PGA Memorial tournament is played each year.
Nicklaus, a veteran of the Ryder Cup matches against European rivals in his playing days, prefers the fact the Presidents Cup is played over four days rather than three, that it has 34 matches rather than 28 and that pairings are made in an alternating choice format rather than blind lists from each captain.
“I would love to see the Ryder Cup change its structure,” Nicklaus said when asked if the Presidents Cup should change its format closer to the Ryder Cup, an idea pitched this year by Nick Price, the Internationals captain, but rejected by Tim Finchem, the US PGA Tour commissioner.
“I understand he thinks that maybe on paper the world team is not as strong as the US team. That changes from year to year,” Nicklaus said.
“Four years from now, the Americans might be begging for mercy.”
That prospect is as unlikely as a Ryder Cup switch to a Presidents Cup format. The Ryder Cup forces captains to rest four players during foursomes (alternate shot) and four-ball sessions ahead of 12 concluding singles matches on Sunday. The Presidents Cup has only two players sitting in each Saturday session per team.
“The reason I like the Presidents Cup structure is you can’t hide a player,” Nicklaus said. “Everybody has to play every day. Guys didn’t work a whole year to make a team and have to sit on the sideline because a captain says he doesn’t think he’s playing well.
“They worked their tails off. They want to play.”
As for the Ryder Cup, he added, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Ryder Cup format, except I think the Ryder Cup has the ability to do that [hide players].”
Nicklaus prefers the matched pairings, where each captain puts a name up and the other decides which of his players will meet him, then offers up his own next choice.
“I really like that,” Nicklaus said. “It actually lets the captain do something strategic.”
Tiger Woods, the world No 1, likes that pairing process because it allows players to ask for potential matchups, such as he did once to face Greg Norman.
“In 2000, I wanted a piece of Vijay Singh and I was able to get that,” Woods said. “You can do things of that nature. You can get guys who have been battling for a number of years, who have rivalries, you can put them out there.”