MELBOURNE, Australia – Eight years ago, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods slugged it out in South Africa in an eventual three-hole Presidents Cup playoff. With no winner, darkness prevailed. The Presidents Cup ended in its only tie.
Since then, the biennial matchup of the U.S. and International teams has been playoff-free, and the captains’ agreement has been amended. Neither U.S. captain Fred Couples nor International counterpart Greg Norman seems to have read the rules regarding a tie after singles play.
Both captains agree that a tie wouldn’t occur.
“The rules have changed for that,” Norman said. “No ties. Don’t ask me what the rules are, but somebody here will be able to explain that to you.”
Well, the rule, in fact, calls for a tie to end as just that: a tie.
The issue was the opposite in 2003, when a tie at the end of the fourth day of matches required a playoff. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, the respective U.S. and International captains, had no choice but to send out two men, with the cup on the line.
After Ernie Els and Tiger Woods parred the first three holes, Nicklaus and Player called the match because of darkness.
“We felt like it was a team event, not an individual event,” Nicklaus said afterwards.
Player agreed with Nicklaus, and the no-playoff provision of the agreement was eliminated.
“Personally, I don’t think there should be a sudden-death playoff,” Player said later. “When you have your tee-off in a major championship or a golf tournament, you’re representing yourself. Yes, there should be a sudden-death playoff — maybe, it’s debatable. But an event like this, 12 players on each team, why should one man represent the playoff instead of the entire team? So I think if there’s a tie, in my personal opinion, in the future, it should be shared.”
So don’t expect a playoff this week, even if the captains or players ask for one.
“I think Greg and Freddy should play off,” Els said playfully. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I don’t think we’ll ever had that situation again. I think that was a one-off. The thing that got us was, if we tie, they keep the cup. But we can change that quickly. We keep the cup for six months and they get it for six months. That’s not going to happen again. There will be a winner in future Presidents Cups.”