The best players from the USA will face off against their international rivals this week in the ninth running of the Presidents Cup, hosted this year by Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia. The US leads the series by six and a half to one and a half.
The team event featuring 12 players from the USA and 12 players from the rest of the world (excluding Europe) was first contested in 1994. The international side has only tasted victory once before but, interestingly, that win came in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the venue for this year’s match.
The format for the competition is slightly different from the Ryder Cup with play over four days rather than three. Proceedings kick off on Thursday with six foursomes matches, then there will be six fourball matches on Friday. Saturday sees five foursomes matches followed by five more fourballs. On Sunday there will be 12 singles contests – so a total of 34 points will be up for grabs.
International team captain Greg Norman has five players from Australia in his side including Geoff Ogilvy who grew up playing golf at Royal Melbourne. Local knowledge is bound to be a factor this week, as will home support for “The Great White Shark” and his boys.
The international side blends youth and experience with young guns like Jason Day, Kyung-tae Kim and Ryo Ishikawa backed up by veteran campaigners, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Robert Allenby.
Fred Couples, captain of team USA for the second match in a row, has six players in his side who are making their Presidents Cup debut. They are: Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Bill Haas.
Phil Mickelson is the only player in this year’s match to have competed in every Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994. Ernie Els is the most experienced team member for the International side. “The Big Easy” only missed the tournaments of 1994 and 2005.
Couples selection of Tiger Woods ahead of USPGA champion Keegan Bradley as a captain’s pick was controversial to say the least. At the time he announced Woods’ inclusion, the former World Number 1 had not produced a competitive individual performance since the US Masters. But Woods has a superb Presidents Cup record with 18 wins from 30 matches. Last time out at Harding Park in San Francisco, Woods won all five of his matches, four of them by resounding margins. He also put in a solid performance in last week’s Australian Open to finish alone in third. Perhaps Freddie’s pick was a shrewd one after all.
Despite their losing record in the tournament, the International side will start this week as slight favourites. But, because the US has not dominated golf in recent years in the way they had become accustomed to, they will be looking to stamp their authority on the global game again this week. It should be a thriller.
Venue: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Victoria, Australia
Date: Nov 17-20
Course stats: par 71, 6,996 yards
Defending Champions: USA (won by 19.5-14.5 in 2009)
Thursday 17 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 2am
Friday 18 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 1am, then Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 19 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10pm
Tiger Woods (Captain’s pick)
Bill Haas (Captain’s pick)
Aaron Baddeley (Captain’s pick)
Robert Allenby (Captain’s pick)
Presidents Cup – Adam Scott to take leading role