The fine line we know and love

Golf is golf, but matchplay is everything.

Every pennant player reading this would have loved The Presidents Cup – every absorbing, excruciating, joyous and heartbreaking moment over the four days.

How many of you have stood over a putt knowing it can win a match? The nerves, the fear, the hope of making that putt knowing the line is so distinctly drawn between success and failure.

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Sungjae IM watches a shot on the 10th

It’s matchplay, and after four rounds at Royal Melbourne Golf Club this week, its status just grew as an event. The atmosphere this event created, the enormous galleries throughout the weekend, the pressure and pleasure matchplay creates surely makes this event one that will continue to build a bigger following.

In the end, Ernie Els did it. He needed to begin restoring the competitiveness of the international team to make this event less of an American cakewalk. He had golfers from nine regions of the world, most of them ranked well below their US counterparts.

The names IM, An, Ancer, Li, Niemann, Pan, Matsuyama – well, they’re all honorary Australians after their heroics this week. To fight again on the back nine the way they did this Sunday, knowing it was a sea of red on the leaderboard through the afternoon, is the sort of stuff that builds culture.

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Scott couldn’t find his best in the Sunday singles.

The way the Australian galleries supported this event, their interest, their passion – it’s unlike anything we’ve seen since the galleries of Greg Norman’s day.

This was hard-fought and you could tell how much it meant to the players. Winning majors counts for most, but matchplay is where respect is earned – no different from any matchplay, at any club any time of the year.

That’s why the passion skyrocketed, there’s a result every hole, even with ties. We can all relate to that.

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Adam Hadwin scrambles for par on the 10th.

The International team gave us some hope they’d break through again, especially with a lead heading into the final day. But it was always feared the quality of the American team would influence the result, and that’s exactly how it played out. Missed chances won’t be memorable, the Internationals and our Australians would be crushed but proud of their performance.

We also learned that rankings mean little in matchplay. Look at the way Cam Smith danced past Justin Thomas – using the crowd to his advantage. Thomas is ranked in the world’s top four, Smith just outside the top 50.

It should offer comfort the next time you commit to the pennant season, knowing that anyone can win on the day.

Golf is golf, but matchplay is everything.

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