Team USA in the box seat at Presidents Cup

The US Presidents Cup team arrived in Australia for this week’s matches a little behind schedule after their charter flight from the Bahamas, where most of the team was playing last week’s Hero World Challenge including playing-captain Tiger Woods, was delayed to land lunchtime yesterday in Melbourne.

Amongst all the pomp and ceremony, this week’s event at Royal Melbourne will again be packed with corporate hospitality and a massive amount of fans as they all try and get a slice of seeing the world’s best in action. And that is essentially what Team USA is, a slice of the world’s best.

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els Tiger Woods and Ernie Els with the Presidents Cup (Credit: Presidents Cup)

Royal Melbourne is the site of the International team’s only victory in 1998 since its inception in 1994. The event was designed ‘to promote international goodwill and the global nature of golf through spirited team matches.’

A look at the results sees a lopsided affair with the USA having won 10 times, tied once, the only blemish, that loss in 1998 in Australia.

The USA has the depth to cover the International team almost every time, and they seem to do so easily. The Americans smashed the Internationals in 2017 in New Jersey to such an extent the result was in the bag before the final day. Yes, there has been some changes to this year’s format, be that slight by reducing the matches, yet they are merely cosmetic and we potentially can see the same situation come this Sunday.

Matchplay is golf at its purest form. It’s interesting to see all the corporate stands line the 16th fairway (Royal Melbourne’s East 18th), so you can guess where PGA Tour organisers are anticipating where most of the matches to finish – hopefully in the International’s favour.

The first three days are played in pairs, with foursomes where two teammates play with one ball and fourball, where they both play a ball but only the best score counts. All 12 players on each team match up in singles matchplay on Sunday. There are 30 matches and since the USA is the current holder, the Internationals would need to reach 15½ points to win the Cup.

The Internationals have prepared well, playing the last few days in Australia with six of Ernie Els’ squad teeing up last week in the Australian Open in Sydney. It’s in stark contrast to the 11 American members, who played at the Hero Challenge before boarding a charter plane from the Bahamas at 8 pm local time Sunday for a 22 hour flight. But that’s the lifestyle of the golfing US elite – and I’m sure they are used to the finer trimmings of highend international flying.

Team USA certainly has the star power – Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau are making their debut President Cup appearances, with Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods all previous members.

The Internationals see three Aussies with Cameron Smith making his debut appearance. Adam Scott and Marc Leishman have been in multiple President Cup teams with Scott first playing in 16 years ago in 2003.