Presidents Cup Under Fire in Golfing Circles
The history of the Presidents Cup has been overwhelmingly one-sided. The biennial tournament has been held 11 times since its inauguration in 1994, and the USA has won the event on all but two occasions.
In 1998, the International Team won their only trophy at the third Presidents Cup, held in Melbourne, under the captaincy of Australian Peter Thomson. In 2003 at Fancourt in South Africa, Gary Player’s Internationals held the Americans to a 17-17 draw, but the other nine tournaments have all gone the USA’s way.
So it’s hardly surprising that the American Team are odds-on favourites in outright futures, at less than $0.30, to win the 2017 Presidents Cup, scheduled to start at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey on 28 September. The Internationals are offered at around $3.00.
Some golfing pundits and players have even written the tournament off as ‘pointless’ for fans and online betting enthusiasts, because the result is always, they believe, a foregone conclusion. But is it?
International Teams have Been Getting Stronger
In the early years of the Presidents Cup, the Americans were winning regularly by 8 points or more. Since the draw on the Fancourt links, however, there have been six tournaments, all won by the USA, but the Internationals have finished within 4 points in four of them. In 2015 in South Korea, the deficit was a single point, and if the Internationals’ Anirban Lahiri hadn’t cracked under pressure to miss a 1.2-metre putt and halve his final match with American Chris Kirk, the outcome would have been different.
The Indian golfer gets a crack at redemption this year, as one of non-playing captain Nick Price’s picks. He’s joined by Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, along with the 10 International players who qualified via the rankings after the Dell Technologies Championship.
Format Makes Upsets Easier
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is in good form, as is Aussie Marc Leishman and South African Louis Oosthuizen; and in the match-play format of the Presidents Cup, they could make a difference. It’s also Price’s third time in succession captaining the team, as opposed to US rookie skipper Steve Stricker, so his experience may tell.
But make no mistake: with five of the USA’s qualifying players in the World Top 10, and Phil Mickelson, veteran of all 11 previous Presidents Cups, among Stricker’s captain’s picks, the smart money is still on the Americans.
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