What you need to know ahead of the 2022 Presidents Cup

CHARLOTTE, NC — Much has changed since the last Presidents Cup was played, when Captain Tiger Woods led the US team to a 16-14 win at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 2019.

Just last week it was announced that Greg Norman will be going to Congress to campaign for LIV Golf, Cameron Smith won another $4 million at the LIV Golf Circuit and Max Homa was defending his title at the Fortinet Championship.

While men’s professional golf remains more fragmented than ever, the sport will come together — at least those players who are still eligible to play on the PGA Tour — at the 14th Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club, which begins Thursday.

One thing that stays the same? With five of the top 10 players in the world, US captain Davis Love III’s team is once again a huge favorite. The Americans have won eight times in a row and in 11 of the past 13 meetings. International team captain Trevor Immelman was forced to reshuffle his roster after several players, including Smith, defected to the LIV Golf Circuit.

Love’s goal ahead of the event is to make sure his team isn’t overconfident.

“I don’t think we need to do too much messaging or motivation,” Love said. “Surely you never want to be on a losing team and we know we’re going against it. Trevor will have a team that has a chip on its shoulder and is motivated and looking to prove it can still be competitive. We have to be careful. These guys are definitely not going to take it.”

Here’s what to expect at this week’s Presidents Cup:

How it works

The Presidents Cup, which pits a 12-man US team against a 12-man international team (excluding Europe), is a four-day matchplay event. There are 30 games and the team with the highest score after four days is the winner.

The schedule:

  • Thursday includes five matches of four (alternative shot).

  • Friday includes five four-ball matches (best ball).

  • Saturday consists of eight matches, divided into four foursome matches in the morning and four fallball matches in the afternoon.

  • The final on Sunday includes 12 individual games.

Each game is worth one point and both teams get half a point for each tie. There is no playoff if the teams are tied after Sunday’s singles games.

Who plays?

On paper, at least, the American team appears to be an overwhelming favorite to win another Presidents Cup. Each of the 12 players on the US team is ranked within the top 25 of the official world golf rankings, including five in the top 10. The international team has only three players ranked in the top 25.

The average world ranking for the US team members is 11.6; the average of the international team is 48.9.

The US team consists of: Scottie Scheffler (No. 1 in the world), Patrick Cantlay (No. 4), Xander Schauffele (No. 5), Justin Thomas (No. 7), Collin Morikawa (No. 9), Sam Burns (No. 12), Jordan Spieth (No. 13), Tony Finau (No. 14), Billy Horschel (No. 15), Max Homa (No. 16), Cameron Young (No. 18) and Kevin Kisner ( No. 25).

The international team includes: Hideki Matsuyama (#17), Sungjae Im (#19), Joohyung “Tom” Kim (#22), Corey Conners (#26), Adam Scott (#30), KH Lee (No.43), Mito Pereira (No.49), Sebastian Munoz (No.63), Cam Davis (No.66), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (No.67), Si Woo Kim (No.76) and Taylor Pendrith ( No. 109).

Who doesn’t play?

The international team was dramatically decimated by players migrating to the LIV Golf Circuit. The Presidents Cup is sanctioned by the PGA Tour, so LIV golfers who have been suspended from the Tour are not eligible to compete at Quail Hollow.

Australia’s Cameron Smith, the third-ranked player in the world and winner of the Open Championship at St Andrews, would have been the top-ranked player on the international team. Chilean Joaquin Niemann (No. 21), Mexican Abraham Ancer (No. 24), South African Louis Oosthuizen (No. 33) and Australia’s Marc Leishman (No. 61) would certainly have made it into the team.

India’s Anirban Lahiri (No. 95) took part in the Presidents Cup in 2015 and 2017 and is not eligible to play this year either.

“Oh, I’m definitely going to miss it,” Lahiri said at the LIV Golf event outside of Chicago last week. “It is important to me. I was on two teams. Very proud to have been a part of them and it’s been a very, very special few weeks for me. I’ll be supporting the international team with all my heart this next week and I hope our guys go out there and try really hard and play really well. Yes, I mean it’s something I hold dear and it’s unfortunate the way things are but I wish them the best.

Niemann added: “Yes, it’s sad to see this, but of course I will support the international team. I have many friends there and many professional golfers that we share a lot over the course of the season. Yes, I will support them and hopefully they beat the Americans.”

Will Zlatoris, who earned his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship last month, would have been on the US team. He had to withdraw from the race due to a back injury. Also, two-time major champion Dustin Johnson (No. 23) would have been heavily considered for a captain’s pick.

What to expect

Not only do the Americans have a huge lead in the world rankings, but they have also been far more successful in the top three matchplay events, the WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay, the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup.

Scheffler, who picked up his third PGA Tour win at the WGC Matchplay tournament in Austin, Texas in late March, is 11-2-2 in singles games for the past two seasons. At the 2021 Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits, he defeated Spaniard Jon Rahm, then world No. 1.

Kisner won the Austin event in 2019 and finished second to Scheffler last season. He has a 22-7-2 record in singles match play. Horschel, making his team event debut as a pro, is 13-7-2.

The international team has eight President Cup rookies. Only four of his players have competed in more than seven matchplay matches as a pro: Matsuyama (11-11-3 singles), Conners (6-4), Scott (22-21-2 singles) and Si Woo Kim (5-9 -3 individually).

Detour of the Green Mile

Dubbed the “Green Mile,” Quail Hollow Club’s final three holes are considered some of the most challenging and dramatic holes in professional golf.

The 16th hole is the longest par 4 on the course and features a large peninsular green with hazards on three sides. The treacherous par 3 17th has water ahead and to the left of the green. The par 4 18th has a creek running down the left side of the fairway which seems to be a ball magnet as the pressure builds. It is typically the toughest finishing hole on the PGA Tour relative to par.

For the Presidents Cup, these holes will be played as #13, 14, and 15 to ensure they come into play during games. At the 2019 Melbourne Presidents Cup, each of the 30 matches reached the 15th hole, but 18 of those were decided before the 18th hole.

“There’s just nowhere to hide in those holes,” Immelman said. “You just have to get up and make a great shot. There’s just no room to get out. Just really challenging. I think putting those three holes in the flesh of the back nine was a brilliant idea. I [can] 100 percent has a couple of these holes that you can win with a par, no problem. It’s going to be great stuff.”

As part of the diversion, Quail Hollow’s regular holes 14-18 will be moved to holes 11-15 this week. So the players complete the traditional holes as follows: 1 to 8, 12 to 18, 10, 11 and 9.

The par-71 course is expected to play more than 7,500 yards, so the length of the tee shot is at a premium.

Another big change at Quail Hollow Club from the Wells Fargo Championship, traditionally held in early May, will be fairways that have been dotted with Bermuda grass. The greens of Bermuda grass are firmer and the rough is a bit thicker even in late summer conditions.

Players are not paid for the competition

Unlike the Ryder Cup, players will not receive any money for participating in the Presidents Cup. Instead, they each receive $150,000 to give to charities of their choosing. Since 1994, the Presidents Cup has raised more than $54.4 million for charities, including $5.4 million in 2019.

https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34625488/what-need-know-ahead-2022-presidents-cup What you need to know ahead of the 2022 Presidents Cup

Emma Bowman

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