Shackelford: More in store at Presidents Cup than imagined 

PGA: The Presidents Cup-Practice Day 2 Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Shackelford: More in store at Presidents Cup than imagined 

PGA Tour

Shackelford: More in store at Presidents Cup than imagined 

There is much riding on this Presidents Cup. Really.

Sure, the 12th edition of the biennial team event feels more like a week to survive for all involved. Golf’s traveling circus is limping in to New Jersey, beat up from a long but successful season of traveling the globe. Yet the Tour Championship’s unshaven and bleary-eyed players made clear they were ready to shut things down and enjoy their accumulated riches. A team golf event is about the last thing several want to deal with, particularly one in the shadows of New York City, where they’ll inevitably find themselves pulled into more obligations than normal.

But for some this is way more than a survival week between the United States and a very solid International squad. This is an event that could decide a few fates, rebrand enterprises and rejuvenate careers.

For your consideration:

Steve Stricker: The United States captain has his hands full trying to motivate exhausted players. Assistant captain Tiger Woods already telegraphed this concern. “They’re a little bit tired and beat up,” he wrote in a 1,500-word blog post. Beyond motivation, however, Stricker faces the pressure of trying to bring home a win with a possible 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy on his radar. While Stricker may be the Bobby Jones of Wisconsin and a lock for the job at Whistling Straits, a loss at Liberty National could put a dent in those plans. Strange things happen in the world of cart driving and earpiece chatter.

Tiger Woods: The Team USA assistant will make another high-profile public reentry following a mishap. His presence is welcomed given the golf world’s desire to see Woods finish his career in style. Perhaps a week around the guys will provide another motivational tool for a return. His key tasks will be helping Stricker with lineups and making tired players want to perform for a legend.

The International squad: They have won only once (1998) and tied another time (2003). Ali-Frazier, this is not. While the Internationals made things interesting last time in Korea, an upset win is desperately needed to justify interest in Royal Melbourne’s 2019 edition. A surprise win is not out of the question. Come on guys, make this week fun.

Adam Scott: Still one of golf’s best players when he’s on his game, Scott has come into a Presidents Cup in dire straits before (2011) and enjoyed a post-event career rebirth. He’s too fit, talented and popular to not enjoy one more run at the Hall of Fame. Team events can be great confidence boosters but also can inflict damage, and Scott plays knowing this.

The World Golf Hall of Fame: Another induction ceremony Tuesday, and another chance for past inductees to show up out of respect for the game they love. Will they?

The New York market: The Presidents Cup kicks off a yearly blast of big-time golf events flooding the region until the 2024 Ryder Cup. While the area loves its golf and the corporate world can never get enough mingling with the pros, an oversaturated market looms and this week will provide an early sign of golf’s star power during the busy fall season.

Liberty National: Maligned by players during previous events and renovated in multiple ways, the course needs a solid week of golf. The good news? Match play can make up for less-than-pleasant design quirks exposed by stroke play. Plus, the combination of setting and Cup spectacle should help this golf-friendly property do a little brand re-building. Theoretically.

(Note: This story appeared in the Sept. 25, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

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