This Presidents Cup may be a lot closer than what many are expecting.
This is the first time the Presidents Cup has been played in Korea and not a lot is known about the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon; which means there isn’t much home advantage to the International team.
There have been a few tweaks to the Presidents Cup format, the most notable being a reduction from 34 to 30 matches to be played with more golfers from each team to sit out the foursomes and fourballs than in previous years. This will enable team captains to sit out those golfers struggling with form.
The home team captain (in this case Nick Price) has the option to start with four-ball or the foursomes format on Thursday. Price will start with four-ball matches though as the Internationals have been beaten up early in many previous events when they’ve started with foursomes (alternate shot).
Lastly, in contrast to previous Presidents Cup’s matches finishing in a tie on the 18th hole will not proceed until a result.
Day 1: 4x Foursome matches
Day 2: 4x Four-ball matches
Day 3: 5x Foursomes, 5x Four-ball matches
Day 4: 12x Single matches
All the action is broadcast on FoxSports – Presidents Cup TV Times.
How do the teams match-up?
Team USA are strong favourites to win their sixth consecutive Presidents Cup. They boast a powerful line-up featuring six of the world’s top-10 players. Compare this to the International side who boast just the one top-10 player, Jason Day and things may look a little gloomy.
USA TEAM: Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, JB Holmes*, Phil Mickelson*
But in terms of Presidents Cup experience things are a lot more evenly matched with both teams having five players who are making their debut this week. Phil Mickelson is clearly the most experienced player appearing in all 10 previous Presidents Cup’s but Australia’s Adam Scott isn’t a newbie to this either. The former Masters champion has played in 6 previous Presidents Cup.
As Nick Price has said, the tournament will be won and lost based on the performances on the bottom half of the teams. This is where the Internationals look the most vulnerable and it’s up to Price to give guys like Lahiri, Jaidee, Lee and Bowditch the confidence to know they can win, or at least scrap out a few halves.
INTERNATIONAL TEAM: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Thongchai Jaidee, Anirban Lahiri, Danny Lee, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Steven Bowditch*, Sang-moon Bae*
* denote captain’s picks
Some of the Americans aren’t in great form either. The more experienced pairing of Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson have usually been a lock in for certain points but they’ve had poor years and whoever is up against them should give themselves a good chance of victory. Something you would never had said about these two players in previous years.
The home crowd will be cheering on Sang-moon Bae who will almost certainly disappear from golf after this event to complete his two-year compulsory military service. New Zealand’s Danny Lee will also garner strong interest from the local crowd who is playing in the country of his birth.
Clearly the match-up we are all waiting for will be Jordan Spieth pitted against Jason Day in the singles on Sunday. Number one in the world versus number two. If it’s close coming into the singles matches, this will be must watch golf.
Who will win?
Much like 2013, there isn’t much enthusiasm for a surprise International victory this week with the smart bet on a comfortable Team USA victory. The 2013 Presidents Cup was much closer than the final 18.5 – 15.5 scoreline suggested and it was largely because the US team’s dominance in the lower half of their team.
It all relies on the opening two days. If the Internationals can be ahead, or at least tied going into the weekend, we may just see the biggest upset in Presidents Cup history.
Prediction: USA 15.5 – International 14.5.