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By Rod Woods

A First Timer’s Perspective

As an avid golfer, my assignment to experience The President’s
Cup from a journalistic perspective was extremely exciting. The tournament was held October 1-6, in Columbus, Ohio.

The first order of business was to secure my press credentials and parking pass. Upon entering the media center I was given a badge, parking pass, and dining wristband and then shown my work station.

The parking pass was definitely a plus. Having attended several tournaments at the Muirfield Golf Club, and having parked in faraway lots, the ability to park close to the site was greatly appreciated.

At my work station there was a journalist from Australia to my right, and another from Japan on my left. I began conversing with them and explained who I was and proceeded to ask if they had any insider tips. They advised that many journalists posted up at their work stations to meet deadlines and watch full coverage of the tournament on the wall-sized television screen. They were amused by my comment that since this was my first time; I was going out to where the action would be taking place.

Practice Session

I reported straight to the practice range. Several members of the American and International teams were diligently practicing their ball- striking skills. A perk of being part of the media was the ability to be within approximately 25 feet of each golfer, which is not something that everyone would experience. The main object of my attention was Tiger Woods (no relation), however I was also able to see Matt Kucher, Steve Sticker, Phil Michelson, and several others. Being that close gave me a greater appreciation for their incredible skill and precision. I am sure I subconsciously picked up on some great swing thoughts.

Tiger was very amenable, laughing and joking with his teammates and signing autographs on his way to the first tee.

Day One - The Competition Begins

Many of you may know this, but I want to reiterate the fact that the President’s Cup is unique in tournament golf in that it is a team competition- The International team, versus the American team. Fans are encouraged to show their support by wearing red, white, and blue. At times the competition sounds more like the Olympics with chants of “USA, USA, USA,” rather than the more reserved behavior displayed during other tournament competition. This also leads to some unique ensembles, images of the American flag were the most evident, however, I saw two fans dressed as Superman and Abraham Lincoln, who received a great deal of attention.

The International team showed surprising strength. The USA won 3 of the 6 matches achieving a halve in one other and losing two. Score : USA 3.5 - International team 2.5.

Above: Mark Collins and Ron Cosey, from Columbus, Ohio,
enjoy day one at The President’s Cup.

Day Two - Rain Rain Rain

In what was to become a recurring theme for the next couple of days, rain became a major factor in the tournament. The Muirfield course is said to be over a sacred Wyandot Indian burial ground. It is said that the spirit of Chief Leatherlips has cursed the Memorial Tournament and heavy rains descend on golfers and spectators practically every year. I don’t know. I’m just saying, could it be that the myth of Chief Leatherlips has transferred from the Memorial Golf Tournament to The President’s Cup? A number of matches were not completed due to the rain and scheduled for completion at the beginning of Day Three.

Before the rain I was walking around the golf course and happened to see a group of young African- American children along the rope line bordering the 16th hole. I was really interested in their reaction to the experience. They were excited to be there and enthralled with the golf course.

Above: KIPP Journey Academy, Columbus, Ohio

Day Three - Catching Up

The day started needing to finish up 4 matches from the previous day and then hold ten new matches over a morning and afternoon session. The third straight day with rain forced several delays moving the matches to be completed Sunday morning. Having gotten drenched on Friday, I was wise enough to retreat to the media center with the other journalists. The American lead was 11.5 to 6.5 over the International team.

Above: Walter and Christine Joyce of Columbus, Ohio, enjoying a rain-free moment at The President’s Cup.

Day Four – The Final Day – If the Rain Holds Off

Day four began rather early for the players as they had to complete matches from day three. With day three matches completed, it was time for the singles competition to determine the 2013 President’s Cup recipients.

On my way to catch Tiger’s match, I noticed a familiar face in the crowd, Darnell Ellis. Darnell is an up-and-coming young golfer who was recently selected as the athlete of the week in the local newspaper the “Columbus Dispatch”.

Darnell’s interests are mainly in Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson because they share a similar swing and he wanted to compare himself to them.

Photo left:Darnell Ellis, Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

In closing, the Americans withstood a late surge by the International squad to win the 2013 President’s Cup, 18.5 to 15.5. To the delight of many, Tiger Woods put the USA over the top, despite having tweaked his back on the 14th hole. Next The President’s Cup 2015, Korea. Now that would be some assignment!

* * * *

Rod Woods
Freelance writer,
Columbus, Ohio