Used to be that the World Cup was a grand, end of the year, celebration of international golf. It’s been played since 1953 in various forms, under various names and, beginning in Canada, in locations around the world. This year it’s the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf and it will be played at the composite course at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.
It was two-man teams from each country playing for worldwide glory. Hogan played in this thing; Snead, Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Miller, Seve, Crenshaw, Freddie and Davis. And that’s just the winners. Faldo, Tiger, Duval, Ernie, Retief, Monty; still more winners. In other words, it was a very prestigious event.
But the cachet started to wane in the eighties a little and more so in recent times, to the point that it went from an annual event to a biennial event. It became tougher to recruit the lead player from each country and then for the lead countryman to recruit his partner. This year, World No. 7 Matt Kuchar is the lead player for the United States and he went all the way down to World No. 46, Kevin Streelman before he got a “yes.” Streelman is a gritty player who has paid his dues on the PGA Tour and worked hard for his first win in Tampa in 2013.
But all of that is sort of moot at this point. The team aspect of the World Cup is being de-emphasized in favor of singles, stroke play competition. Of the $8 million purse, $7 million goes to the singles, with the winner taking home $1.2 million. There will be world ranking points issued. The winners of the team competition will split $600,000.
Why all of this important is that the World Cup now becomes the proving ground for the format for the Olympics which will be a singles event.
Royal Melbourne, just hosted the Talisker Masters won by Adam Scott. Given that he’s an Aussie and just won on the course, Scott would have to be the favorite. Will that mantle prove too heavy or has the Masters winner and Talisker Masters winner transcended such shackles? He’s certainly looking good for the win.
And it’s why we watch.