Greg Norman may wish he could change a few of his decisions at the 2011 Presidents Cup, and not just with his captain’s picks.
Greg Norman is not the type of golfer to have any regrets. If he did, the weight may be heavier than a late afternoon thunderstorm at Royal Melbourne, after going through two divorces and a multitude of heartbreaking losses at major tournaments.
When the local duo of Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley were chosen as Norman’s picks to complete the Presidents Cup International Team, most assumed their intimate knowledge of the tough Royal Melbourne golf course would see them racking up points like Phil “The Power” Taylor. Both players have been streaky at best with only Baddeley’s Friday afternoon putting giving him a moment’s grace.
Norman’s pairings have to be questioned.
The combination of Els and Ishikawa wasn’t necessarily a bad pairing, but placing them in the leading group on the opening days was like sending the lamb to the wolves. Ishikawa’s late arrival in Melbourne meant he only got one look at the golf course, and in hindsight it looks like a bad decision to throw him out so early.
One could also question Norman’s decision to split the winning pairing of Scott and Choi. The record breaking win over Stricker and Woods was the shock result of the first three days. Norman explained he wanted to spread the local knowledge and good form across the team for Friday, but Scott’s form went out the window for most of his match with KT Kim.
There are other factors that explain the lopsided scoreboard.
The Americans have been playing not just good golf, but very good team golf. They are ranked much higher than the International team on the whole and have shown why. They have hit many more fairways and greens than the opposition particularly in the foursomes format that they have dominated at the Presidents Cup for many years.
The International Team waited (or decided) until Saturday afternoon to show any fight. The putts began to roll in and for the first real time the rain-drenched galleries have had reason to cheer.
The Korean and South African players began the charge with KT Kim looking much more at home in the wet conditions. Jason Day has struggled for most of the week and looks like he’s spent too much time on the US PGA Tour, forgetting how to etch out a round on a sandbelt golf course.
The USA go into the final day with a 13 – 9 lead. No team has come from behind to win the Presidents Cup on the final day. One can’t help but wonder what it may have looked like if Captain Norman had made different decisions. I wonder if John Senden is thinking the same thing.