"Without Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and other U.S. mainstays from the pre-Tiger era, Woods and Mickelson seemed far more comfortable"

gwar02_071005philwoody.jpgA few interesting observations from Golf World's John Hawkins regarding the U.S. triumph at Royal Montreal:

From a personnel standpoint, however, the pieces here all fit perfectly. Without Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and other U.S. mainstays from the pre-Tiger era, Woods and Mickelson seemed far more comfortable, not only as team leaders, but with each other. Nicklaus' light touch has never imparted a more positive effect -- when you've won 18 majors, there's no need to break chalkboards. Furyk, Toms, Stricker and Zach Johnson are gentle, easygoing guys, low-maintenance types and dependable putters. It's easy to say now, but this team was a lot better in person than on paper.

Then there's Woody. "He brings exuberance, and it [rubs] off on everyone," said Mickelson, who manhandled Vijay Singh in Sunday singles and lost just once in five matches, countering his poor performances at the '03 Presidents and '04 and '06 Ryder Cups. "We've played these things every year since '94, and guys like Woody and [Mahan] remind us how fun and exciting it is. That gets us focused."

On past U.S. squads Jerry Kelly and Chris DiMarco auditioned for the role of emotional catalyst. Both are high-end grinders whose relative lack of talent has been overcome by high levels of intensity, but neither was all that successful when it came to translating that vibe throughout the roster. Their intentions may have been admirable, but the message came across in a foreign language.

Meanwhile, because I know they love having their work lumped together, don't miss Alan Shipnuck's golf.com Hot List for this week. I've included the Presidents Cup list-makers here:

1. Rory Sabbatini. On a team of disappointments, he stood out with a homely 0-3-1 record, including a loss in the leadoff single match, which is supposed to set the tone for the team. Not only that, but Woody Austin has now usurped him as golf's biggest dufus, an honor Sabbo seemed to treasure.

3. George O'Grady. The Euro tour's executive director used a Presidents Cup press conference to pooh-pooh drug-testing as unnecessary and too expensive. Earth to George: ask Bud Selig how costly denial can be.

5. Vincent Chase. He used to be the most famous Aquaman, but now Woody Austin has stolen this title, too. Funny thing about Austin, as goofy as he is, you can't deny he's got a ton of game. 

I also hoped to read Brett Avery's typically entertaining player scorecard but couldn't get the link to work. Is  it just me or anyone else having the same problem? **

** Now working!