U.S. battles injuries, idleness ahead of World Cup opener
Tiger Woods and Jason Day pose for a photo in the locker room at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Nov. 19, 2013. (Yahoo! Sports)
It has been more than a year since the U.S. and Japan fought each other in the first round of the PGA Tour World Cup, a one-off match played at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Now that the 2018 edition of the four-week mini-tournament is upon us, the stakes are even higher as the sides go head-to-head in a series of matches that could have serious implications for the U.S. golfing scene.
And the stakes only get higher when the U.S. faces a team it has not yet met and not played against on tour — either in practice rounds or in official, tournament-match play.
“This is a match that will be played by two teams that have played together a number of times against each other,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said.
He is right. It will be a match that had its beginnings back in 1996, when the U.S. traveled to Ireland for a match against Ireland. Since then, the teams have faced each other twice each (2000, 2012), three times each (2002, 2010, 2011) and once each, three times (2005, 2010 and 2014) and four times each (2000, 2012, 2014 and 2016).
“I thought Ireland was a great match. When I was asked back in 2000, we played Ireland and went into a tie because two shots behind,” U.S. captain Tiger Woods said. “But a couple of years later, we went into a tie with Japan and we were really outplayed with every shot.”
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk said the American team’s ability to get to the heart of the match, having played against each team prior to the World Cup, was essential.
“This is a team that, once it gets to that first match, has to figure out, ‘OK, what do we have to do to get this win?’” Furyk said. “They’ve gone through a lot of adversity. They’ve had to qualify