Why this U.S. Presidents Cup team’s dinner plans irked the team captain

The 2003 Presidents Cup famously ended in a 17-17 tie — the only Presidents Cup match to end that way in the exhibition’s 27-year history. That edition is also the only one to be played in South Africa, where Gary Player captained the Internationals and Jack Nicklaus led the Americans.

Tim Clark, a South African and two-time PGA Tour winner, was a member of that International squad, and on a recent episode of Subpar, he shared a funny tale about how a meal at a popular fast-food joint may have hampered the U.S. team’s efforts in South Africa that fateful week.

After Friday’s matches, the U.S. held a comfortable lead over the Internationals, 9.5 to 6.5. But that was about to change.

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“We were getting beaten pretty handily in South Africa through a couple days,” Clark told Subpar hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. “And Ernie [Els] had a barbeque — a braai as we would call it — at his house on I think it was the Friday night. We didn’t party crazy, but we just all got together, braai’ed, had a little bit of wine, relaxed.

“The next day we went out and we swept the Americans. And then we heard the story that that night, [the Americans had] all been homesick — I mean, they’d been out of America for three days … so they all went to McDonald’s. And the next day after they got swept, I heard from one of the guys, that Jack was so mad.”

Apparently, the Golden Bear was not a fan of the team trip to the Golden Arches, telling them, if you don’t eat well, you’re not going to play well.

“They got chewed out for that,” Clark said.

Luckily for the Americans, they were able to overcome the three-point deficit they faced from Saturday’s sweep during their Sunday’s singles matches to tie the Cup. Could they have prevailed in South Africa if they’d eschewed the allure of Big Macs for some grilled veggies and wheatgrass smoothies instead? We’ll never know.

For more from Clark — including the highlights of his win at the Players Championship — check out his full interview below.

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