Commentary

Five ways the Presidents Cup beats the Ryder Cup

Updated: September 25, 2007, 11:30 AM ET
By Bob Harig | Special to ESPN.com

In terms of popularity and prestige, the Presidents Cup lags behind the high-profile event it is modeled after, due mostly to its lack of history. The Ryder Cup has 70-plus years of tradition going for it, a healthy amount of "bad blood'' between the participants and an intensity born out of immense pride from the European Union, which has knocked off the Americans three straight times.

The Presidents Cup -- to be played for the seventh time with an American team taking on a squad of international players outside of Europe -- might never match the Ryder Cup, but it has nonetheless emerged as an excellent international golf event that will be the talk of Canada this week when the competition is played at Royal Montreal Golf Club.

Chris DiMarco
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesChris DiMarco clinched the Cup for the U.S. team two years ago.
And while the events are similar in their format and style, the Presidents Cup does have five aspects that distinguish it from the Ryder Cup -- a few of which some might find to be better features.

1. Four days instead of three
The Ryder Cup is played over three days, cramming eight matches into the schedule on Thursday and Friday before Sunday singles. Given the event's popularity and money-making potential, it is somewhat surprising the Ryder Cup has not gone to four days. The Presidents Cup has seized that opportunity and offers one more day of golf and six more matches total. There are just six matches are Thursday and Friday, then 10 on Saturday, before the 12 Sunday singles.

2. Everybody plays
Because of the expanded format at the Presidents Cup, all 12 players on each team are required to play during the Thursday foursomes (alternate shot) and Friday four-ball (best ball). The Ryder Cup format has four players sitting out of each session, and no requirement that everybody play. Saturday play at the Presidents Cup has five foursomes matches and five fourball matches. Two players sit out each session, but everyone is required to play at least once on Saturday. The beauty of the Presidents Cup format is that a weak player cannot be hidden, and everybody plays all the formats.

3. The Americans are loose
For reasons unexplained, the American players seem to have a better time at the Presidents Cup, which results in better play. Despite competing against an International squad that is every bit as formidable -- and many believe more so -- than the European team they face at the Ryder Cup, the Americans are 4-1-1 in the competition, with the only defeat coming nine years ago in Australia. During that same time, they have won just once at the Ryder Cup -- and in 1999 needed the biggest comeback in the event's history to pull it off. Unlike the Ryder Cup, which has seen three straight European blowouts, the Presidents Cup has been compelling, with a playoff (the two teams agreed on a tie) in 2003 and a match that went down to the wire in 2005.

4. The draw can be set up
At the Ryder Cup, the captains make their pairings and set the order of play while able to only guess what the other captain is going to do. It often can lead to some mismatches, at least on paper. At the Presidents Cup, one captain puts his team or player on the board, and the other captain is able to match it, all the way through both lineups. That all but guarantees a compelling final-day singles match for Tiger Woods. Will it be against Canadian hero Mike Weir? Bad boy Rory Sabbatini? Or long-time rival Ernie Els?

5. No ties on Sunday
A match can end in a tie at both competitions, but not on Sunday at the Presidents Cup. Unlike the first three days at the Presidents Cup -- and all of the Ryder Cup -- the Sunday singles matches cannot end in a tie while the overall competition is still in doubt. Players who finish tied will continue in sudden death, adding an extra element of drama. Should the overall competition end in a tie, both sides share the Presidents Cup. At the Ryder Cup, the last team to win retains the Cup with a tie.

Bob Harig is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com