THE staging of the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open is a historic and monumental event for golf in this country. The first LPGA tournament on Kiwi soil heralds a new era for the game as the world spotlight focuses upon Auckland’s Windross Farm golf course.
Lydia Ko is the headline act and will carry the weight of a nation – the very reason why the 20-year-old is the focal point of our September cover as well as the Women’s Open coverage.
But elsewhere on the same weekend, The Presidents Cup will be staged in New Jersey. The biennial contest between the Americans and the Internationals is a marquee event on the global calendar.
But due to the lopsided nature of past contests, The Presidents Cup is perceived as a poorer cousin to The Ryder Cup and will always do so until a compelling rivalry and narrative eventuates.
On paper and in practice, the Americans have enjoyed superiority over the Internationals, who have relied too heavily on Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders to fill 12 spots on the team. Asian players have been a rare sight in past Cup matches.
On this subject, Jack Newton raised an interesting suggestion to add impetus to The Presidents Cup. The Australian golf legend suggested turning the event into a mixed competition involving the best men and women outside of Europe.
By making this alteration, the International team would have access to the best female players from across Asia – a region that has dominated the women’s game for more than a decade.
How would it work? Both teams would comprise six men and six women. This would instantly even up the contest and eliminate the one-sided nature of the Cup. It would also give it a point of difference to the Ryder Cup.
Based on the Official World Golf Ranking and Rolex Rankings for women’s golf, here’s how the American and International teams would line up:
Dustin Johnson (No.1)
Jordan Spieth (No.3)
Justin Thomas (No.7)
Rickie Fowler (No.10)
Brooks Koepka (No.12)
Matt Kuchar (No.13)
Lexi Thompson (No.2)
Cristie Kerr (No.14)
Stacy Lewis (No.19)
Danielle Kang (No.20)
Gerina Piller (No.24)
Jessica Korda (No.27)
Hideki Matsuyama (No.2)
Jason Day (No.9)
Adam Scott (No.19)
Louis Oosthuizen (No.20)
Charl Schwartzel (No.25)
Marc Leishman (No.27)
So Yeon Ryu (No.1)
Ariya Jutanugarn (No.3)
Sung Hyun Park (No.4)
Lydia Ko (No.5)
Shanshan Feng (No.6)
In Gee Chun (No.7)
That would equate to a cumulative world ranking of 152 for the Americans and 128 for the Internationals. It would certainly create more of a contest than is likely to occur at Liberty National in the final week of September.
It’s worth noting The Ryder Cup was a terribly one-sided affair for most of the 20th Century. It only became a spectacle once players from Continental Europe were introduced from 1979. And The Ryder Cup has never looked back.
Introducing women to The Presidents Cup would generate more interest in Asia where the women’s game is more popular than men’s golf on TV. And from a Kiwi perspective, it would give Ko the opportunity to shine on a wider stage.
The Presidents Cup needs a shot in the arm and Newton may have just come up with the perfect formula.