Changes to the Presidents Cup format help the International Team, but can they produce an upset?
Several changes have been made to the format of the Presidents Cup less than two months out from the 2015 event in South Korea.
PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem announced the changes this morning which will have an impact on the schedule, format and team structures. Most of the changes were at thew request of International Team captain Nick Price who hoped to see a closer result than in previous years.
From the Presidents Cup website, the changes are:
–Structure of the matches will be reduced from 34 total points to 30, with five four-ball and five foursome matches on Thursday/Friday, versus six and six; and four four-ball and four foursome matches on Saturday, versus five and five. The first four Presidents Cup events (1994, 1996, 1998, 2000) were played with a total of 32 matches;
–Each player will be required to participate in two of the first four sessions, with every player competing in the Sunday singles. In the past, team members were required to play in at least three of the four four-ball/foursome segments;
–The order of the matches for Thursday and Friday will be determined by the host team’s captain, versus being set forth in the competition agreement. In this scenario for 2015, Captain Price can determine which format – four-ball or foursomes – will be played on Thursday and Friday;
–Finally, foursome, four-ball and singles matches that are all-square after 18 holes are determined to be a draw, with each team receiving a half point. Previously, singles matches that were all square after 18 holes were extended to sudden death to determine the winner until one team had enough points to win The Presidents Cup.
Most of these changes work in favour of the International Team who in more recent times have less depth than the American team. Historically the International Team have struggled in the opening foursome format. Expect to see Price choose to play four-ball as the first format in South Korea.
The Presidents Cup has generally been a lop-sided contest with the American team winning nine of the 11 previous events – mostly due to the American team having far greater depth than the International Team. But this wasn’t always the case as an AP article at ESPN points out:
Price said the International team historically lacks depth compared with the Americans, though that wasn’t always the case. For the 2007 matches at Royal Montreal, the International team had nine of the top 20 in the world, compared with five of the top 20 for the Americans. But the Americans didn’t lose any of the 12 foursomes matches and breezed to a victory.