Afterward compliments, not tears, flowed. Said Thomson, "We bow to a superior team." What ultimately did in the International squad was its flat play on Friday, which the players blamed mostly on unfamiliarity with each other and with the team formats. Said Nobilo, "We don't know whether we should put guys from the same country together, put the long hitters together, on down the line."
While team results were paramount, individual reputations were also at stake. Couples was the hero, but O'Meara got the biggest boost; he went 5-0 to help offset three mediocre Ryder Cup appearances. "It's huge, absolutely huge," O'Meara said of the ramifications of his performance. Duval, playing in his first international team event, was rock solid. Norman was the most impressive of the International players, especially in his brassy 3 and 1 win against Pavin.
Then there was Palmer, who not only melded egos deftly, but as corny as it sounds, also was a source of inspiration. "We were all thinking about how A.P. would play out there," said O'Meara. "Would he hitch up his pants and go forward? You bet he would."
That doesn't sound like a bad course of action for the Presidents Cup, either. Sooner or later it will have to leave the snug confines of Virginia and be contested on the home ground of one of the International team's players. But that will take time. "Tradition is not generated overnight," said the International team's Nick Price. "For only the second playing of this event, this was a very big step forward."