I've now covered four Presidents Cups and three Ryder Cups and I've got to say, I prefer the Prez.
It's not because the U.S. tends to wins the Presidents Cup, whereas it generally gets whupped in the Ryder Cup. It's because in the Presidents Cup, both teams keep things in perspective. It's a golf match, not a clash of civilizations, not an statement on the superiority of one culture over another.
At the Ryder Cup, somewhere along the line things got too serious, too testy, too anxiety-ridden. Sit through a press conference at a Ryder Cup and nobody is smiling, nobody is loose or even looking forward to playing the matches. It has become a cliche in recent years but it's true: The Americans don't play the Ryder Cup to win, they play not to loose. The result, in the media center and on the golf course, is that they are too tight.
Of course, the Europeans know that and use it to their advantage. They can see the fear and dread in the Americans' eyes and they use it for all its worth. They laugh and joke and brag about how the mighty Americans are so much better on paper, yet, somehow, they can't seem to win against the lean, mean Euros.
By contrast, at Royal Montreal Golf Club, the Americans were glad to be here, eager to tee it up and play the game. Sure, they wanted to win, and they were facing a team in the Internationals that is superior to the Europeans, but there wasn't the pressure, the fear and loathing.
I credit the captains, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, for setting the tone. Both are a couple of old lions in winter, with their legacy's firmly in place. They've got nothing left to prove. They're just happy to still be involved in the game and hanging around the young stars of today, basking in the limelight. At the Ryder Cup, the captains tend to be younger and much more concerned about their place in the history of the Cup and the game.