Rory McIlroy nailed it during the Ryder Cup when he said team golf is the best.
Do we really have to wait two years for the next Ryder and Solheim cups? Well, the Presidents Cup is less than a year away, but so is a new creation for the golf calendar: the World Champions Cup, which pits three teams of senior-aged golfers. How about these three captains: Jim Furyk for Team USA, Darren Clarke for Europe and Ernie Els for the International squad. Not too shabby at all. All three have been captains within the past five years in international competition and continue to thrive as winners this season on PGA Tour Champions.
“It’s a continuation of long rivalries,” said Peter Jacobsen, who is serving as chairman of the inaugural competition, which is scheduled for November 2022. “These guys are beyond interested in rekindling those competitive flames. For them to be able to do it as seniors is going to be very special.”
Darren Clarke will captain the European Team in the World Champions Cup. (Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post)
As the saying goes, there are no new ideas, and a Ryder Cup style competition for the 50-and-over set previously existed a couple of decades ago. From 2001-04, Arnold Palmer captained a U.S. side in the UBS Cup against Gary Player and once Tony Jacklin. The idea of reviving something like it for the graybeards has been kicked around and talked about for years, Jacobsen said. Intersport, which founded and operates the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, is working on signing a title sponsor and securing a course for a November 2022 date. Originally the plan was to launch the tournament this fall, but COVID had other plans and pushed it back a year.
The format of the three-day competition will be twice daily nine-hole matches featuring both team and single play with points awarded for each hole won in each match. At the conclusion of the matches, the team with the highest point total wins.
“I guess you can call the scoring member-guest-ish,” Jacobsen said.
For the first time, the competitors of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup will go head-to-head in the same competition, while older rivalries will be renewed.
“The World Champions Cup will give golf fans the opportunity to see the game’s greatest players come together in a team format on the world’s biggest stage,” said PGA Tour Champions president Miller Brady in a press release announcing the competition. “International team events are some of the most significant competitions in our game, and it will be fun to see Ernie, Jim and Darren, along with their teammates, compete for the inaugural World Champions Cup next year.”