News
7:18 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Presidents Cup Play Begins Today

The Presidents Cup begins today at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin.

Opening ceremonies were held last night in Columbus. Mike Foley reports.

From the Drums of Hiuchi Taiko to the Ohio State University Marching Band, Presidents Cup 2013 kicked off in style in downtown Columbus in what PGA Tour officials call the first off-course site opening ceremony in the event's history. The ceremony at Columbus Commons featured appearances by the Governor, golfing great Jack Nicklaus and all 24 golfers competing in the event. President Obama - this year's honorary chair - had been expected to attend but the events in Washington dictated otherwise. He sent this video message.

President Obama - For golf fans everywhere, and that includes me - this is an exciting chance to see the best golfers in the world to face off in a friendly competition. It's a great way to promote the global camaraderie of sports. We're so pleased to welcome the international team and while we wish them all the best of luck, I'm still rooting for the red, white and blue. Go Team USA and have a great tournament.

The Presidents Cup takes the individual sport of golf and turns it into a team game featuring the top 12 golfers from the United States and a dozen from around the world excluding Europe - which takes part in a similar tournament on alternate years known as the Ryder Cup. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on what's unique about the Presidents Cup.

Tim Finchem - The fierce competition, the unbelievable focus on sportsmanship and the charitable aspect of what happens this week is very special. The uniqueness being that the net proceeds get distributed by the captains, assistants and players to the charities of their choice. 

Finchem says since the Cup's inception in 1994, more than $27 million has been donated to 400-plus charities. It's unclear how much of this year's proceeds will stay with central Ohio charities, but the City of Columbus expects more than $22 million in visitor spending, $1.2 million dollars in income tax revenue, and will have an overall economic impact in central Ohio of up to $50 million. As for the golf, Memorial Tournament executive director Dan Sullivan likens the Presidents Cup to a sprint.

Dan Sullivan - The Memorial is more like a marathon where you build and build with the ultimate payoff on Sunday. The Presidents Cup more like a hundred-yard sprint. Every hole means something, every match means something. They build in intensity from the first hole all the way through Sunday. There will be more chances for birdie and that's a key aspect in match play. The rules committee wants to ensure the event is setup so there's action.

The PGA Tour awarded the Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village course the Presidents Cup three years ago, and the planning has gone relatively smoothly with the exception of a taller, metal fence the Tour wanted set up around the course as a security measure. Some residents near the Dublin course objected, preferring the mesh-like fence used for the annual Memorial tournament. Then in August, deer became impaled on the sharp tips of the fence, so crews installed a top bar to prevent further injuries to animals. Sullivan calls it a long road and a learning process for everybody.

Dan Sullivan - The residents as well as us. We think we're getting it right. The fence aesthetically fits into the surroundings of the golf course. It will come down after the Presidents Cup and will go back up for the Memorial and then come back down again. There's an interest to ensure the golf course has its security during peak times but also has some visual accessibility for the surroundings so that's what we're trying to balance.

With this weekend's event, Muirfield Village will have the rare distinction of hosting a President's Cup, Ryder Cup and the LPGA's Solheim Cup. Nicklaus says recognizes the significance.

Jack Nicklaus - This is the center of the golfing world this week - 230 countries will see this on television. They're gonna see Dublin, Ohio, Columbus Ohio, central Ohio. They're going to see the hospitality, the enthusiasm, the sport, a lot of things I'm proud of. To have that displayed on tv this week is important for the city. They understand and appreciate that and embrace it and will continue to embrace it.

For all the golf glory Nicklaus has achieved, he called the 2003 Presidents Cup tie the greatest sporting event he's ever been involved in. Nicklaus captained the U.S. team against his friend Gary Player. Fred Couples captains the U.S. team for the third straight time with a squad that includes Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and young Jordan Spieth. It's the first time as International Team Captain for Nick Price, whose players include Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Jason Day. Price has played on five Presidents Cup teams. The United States has won 7 of the 9 events.