Couples plays it a different way with the lead
We shall see how the strategy works out, but Fred Couples didn’t exactly follow Paul Azinger’s Ryder Cup plan for the singles matches that worked so well for the Americans last time.
Carrying a 9-7 lead in Kentucky, Azinger loaded his power early in the dozen matches. His hot guys then were Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan, Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson and they were out within the first five matches. This time, with a three-point lead, Couples kept his power back. Only Steve Stricker (4-0) started in the first half of today’s matches, lined up fifth against Geoff Ogilvy. Tiger Woods (4-0) was out ninth, Mickelson (3-0-1) was 11th and Jim Furyk, (2-1-1 and always a handful in singles) was swimming anchor.
Not saying Couples was wrong, just different. He and Greg Norman also are to be commended for producing the matches people wanted to see, namely 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa against 49-year-old Kenny Perrry – although I wonder just how much Perry wanted it – and the PGA Championship rematch of Y.E. Yang against Tiger Woods.
That is the beauty of the Presidents Cup, as opposed to the Ryder Cup. The captains, matching games over a table, can produce the showdowns fans want to see. In the Ryder Cup, everything comes out of the envelope and the strategy is pretty much power early or power late.
Everyone knows which way Azinger went last year at Valhalla and if this ever happens to blow up in Couples’ face today, he’ll certainly hear about the difference.