Although the Ryder Cup is thought of as the pinnacle in today's matchplay golf scene, the President's Cup is a very close second, or is it the World Cup? Neither match up to the Ryder Cup in prestige. The Europeans, though, are not invited along to this party so the International team will be compiled from everywhere else except Europe and America. This years International squad includes players from Australia, South Africa, Japan, Korea, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina and India.
Held this year at the interesting Liberty National in New Jersey, The President's Cup promises a lot each year, but in recent times, some in the industry see it as becoming less and less relevant. The Ryder Cup still has an aura about it that The President's Cup cannot seem to match. The issue is, there really has not been any competition for the American team since its inception. Other than the win in 1998 by the Internationals, in Australia at Royal Melbourne, there is only a tied series in 2003 to hang their hat on. The rest have all been won by the Americans. The last Cup was so close, it came down to a single shot and if Lahiri had sunk his 7 foot putt, there would have been a different result, but looking at it on paper, there is little competition and that is what sets it apart from The Ryder Cup. The European team and its supporters get a close contest, where winning and losing is on a razors edge. As soon as results start doing this in The President's Cup, we may get that "uncertain result" feeling in it as well, but until America lose the Cup a few more times, the hype just won't be there. On September 28th, when the fun begins, nothing matters except the points.
The President's Cup is played over 4 days, with the first day being Foursomes (2 players, playing alternate shots with one golf ball) followed by Fourball matches (each player playing their own ball with the best score counting). The 3rd day has a mixture of Foursomes in the morning and Fourballs in the afternoon, then the final day has 12 single matchplay contests. The points are awarded for a win and sometimes, on the first few days, for a half. There are 30 points up for grabs and the first team to reach 15 and a half will win.
There is an automatic qualifying for the first 10 places in each team and these places have been filled.
The American Team consists of: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar and Kevin Chappell.
The Internaitionals Team consists of: Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Si Woo Kim, Jhonatton Vegas and Adam Hadwin.
There is no doubt that the American team is in better form and has better names than the Internatonals, they have 7 players from the top 20 OWGR, versus only 3, but do not count out the pride of playing against another country. Famous victories have been won by many who were thought of as "Not Worthy" in years past. Sang Moon Bae was not the first picked a few years ago as Aussie Matt Jones had done more to qualify, but Bae knew the course and delivered 2.5 points to the team when nobody thought he could. This almost won it for the Internationals.
So who have the captains extra picks gone to? For Steve Stricker and the USA Team, pick 1 was Phil Mickelson. Not only does he know the golf course like the back of his hand (he is a member here), but his record in President's Cups is legendary. Phil holds the records for most appearances, most points, most forsomes points and most fourball points as well. Who gets the other? Charlie Hoffman was extremely unlucky to miss out on automatic selection. His year has been superb and he has been selected as the second Captian's pick. For Nick Price and the Internationals, pick 1 went to Emilliano Grillo. He has had up and down results in 2017, but is still a quality player. The second could've gone to a number of people including the Japanese pair of Hideto Tanihara or Yuta Ikeda, Li Hao Tong of China, Byeong Hun An of Korea or even Scott Hend from Australia. It was a tough decision, but Anirban Lahiri of India was given the nod. He played in the last President's Cup, in South Korea and failed to score a point, but will be better for the experience.
The golf course was built on land that was initially a land fill. It was taken over by a wealthy land baron and converted into the most prestigeous golf course in the Manhatton area. The club cost $250 million to build and has views of the skyline of New York and the Statue of Liberty from most of its 18 holes. The 6,724 meter, Robert E Cupp & Tom Kite designed golf course is not super long, but bunker placement and tight fairway lines will make it challenging to play. Of recent tournaments here, The Barclays, in 2009 was won here with a score of -9, but the course has undergone many changes since then. Its unknown how this will affect scoring, but most say it has been made a little more user friendly.
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Of the 12 stagings of the President's Cup, 7 of them have been hosted by American courses. This will be the 8th. Royal Melbourne is next to host in 2019, Quail Hollow after that in 2021. Hopefully, by then, the President's Cup will have grown in prestige to be if not equal to, but thought of in the same way as the Ryder Cup is. Going for the underdog is fine once in a while, but not every time the Cup rolls around. It won't be long before it just gets old. Perhaps, even the World Cup needs to be re-done in a way that welcomes more prestige. If the 2 players from each representing country were the highest world ranking, that might help. Some thoughts for another time. Both teams will have some help for their captains, the Americans will have Tiger, Furyk, Love III and Freddy Couples. The Internationals will have Ernie, Ogilvy, Tony Johnstone and Mike Weir. C'mon the Internationals! Doesn't quite have a ring to it, does it? If the International team can win, then what a joy it will be to take the Cup from the current President.
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