If the world rankings are anything to go by, the United States will continue to dominate the Presidents Cup in this year’s biennial match against the International Team at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, Korea from October 8-11.
The Americans have eight players inside the top 15 in the world ranking among the 10 players who at the end of August were currently qualified to make the team on points. The Internationals have just three.
The lowest ranked American, Chris Kirk, was 25th while five of the International members ranked outside the top 30. The lowest ranked was Danny Lee at 54th.
Of the 10 Presidents Cup matches held so far, the US has won eight, the Internationals just one, and there was one tie at The Links at Fancourt in 2003. That was the occasion of the famous play-off between Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, playing to break a tie, ended in fading light when captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player called PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on the phone and they agreed to call the Presidents Cup a draw even though the event’s rules stated it could not end in a tie.
Although it is being played in South Korea, no Korean players were as of the end of August currently qualified to make the line-up.
Nick Price, captain of the International Team, has lobbied for fewer matches to “level the playing fields” because, he feels, there is less depth in the nations that make up the Internationals (the rest of the world not including Europe) than in the United States. And late in August the PGA Tour announced changes that will see the total number of matches reduced from 34 to 30, which remains slightly higher than the 28 matches contested at the Ryder Cup.
While in previous years there were six fourball and six foursomes matches across the first two days of the Presidents Cup – meaning each player on the 12-man rosters had to play both days – there will now be five matches per day.
Saturday’s schedule will include four fourball and four foursomes matches, as opposed to five matches per session, followed by 12 singles matches on Sunday.
“For quite some time, the International team has been advocating for a reduction in total points, while the US team felt strongly that the Presidents Cup format should remain as it has been,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said as part of the announcement.
“After numerous meetings and discussions, it was apparent that both captains felt passionate about their respective positions, as did their potential team members. But with no clear consensus between the two sides, it was up to me to make a decision that would be best for the event overall.”
An additional change was made to match scoring, as matches that are tied after 18 holes will now be declared a draw, with half-points awarded. In previous years, singles matches went to extra holes until a winner was decided if the overall event winner had yet to be determined.
Each player from both the US and International sides will be required to participate in two of the first four sessions, a reduction from the previous rule that required players to participate in three of the first four sessions. Additionally, the order of the match format on Thursday and Friday will be determined by the host team’s captain.
Standings at the end of August (world rankings in brackets, two Captain’s pick in each team to be names this month) UNITED STATES
1. Jordan Spieth (2), 2. Bubba Watson (4), 3. Jimmy Walker (14), 4. Zach Johnson (11), 5. Jim Furyk (6), 6. Dustin Johnson (7), 7. Patrick Reed (18), 8. Rickie Fowler (8), 9. Matt Kuchar (15), 10. Chris Kirk (25).
1. Jason Day (3) Australia, 2. Adam Scott (12) Australia, 3. Louis Oosthuizen (13) SA, 4. Hideki Matsuyama (17) Japan, 5 Branden Grace (21) SA, 6. Marc Leishman (31) Australia, 7. Anirban Lahiri (39) India, 8. Thongchai Jaidee (42) Thailand, 9. Charl Schwartzel (40) SA, 10 Danny Lee (54) NZ.