The Presidents Cup is a rare chance for golf fans to enjoy some quality team action. The United States and the International Team have been locking horns on a bi-annual basis since the tournament was founded in 1994 and it continues to grow both in terms of quality and entertainment.
Unlike the Ryder Cup there are four days of action to enjoy and the USA have a very strong recent record. They are the odds-on favourites with the bookies to stretch their winning run to eight Presidents Cups and should be able to get the job done once again at Royal Melbourne.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is one of the most highly revered golf courses in the world. It is a perfect example of the world class courses that make up the Sandbelt region of Victoria and has already twice been used as a host of the Presidents Cup. Each of the players competing in the 2019 edition are excited and proud to get the chance to play on such an iconic course. They’re also more than a little fearful of shooting a big score as Royal Melbourne is a real handful when the wind blows as it is forecasted to do at times during the four days of play.
The only problem with Royal Melbourne is that it is a short course at 7,074 yards for a total par of 71. With restrictions on what the club can do with the land that surrounds the course, Royal Melbourne cannot be lengthened. Many event organisers have therefore had concerns about the threat of modern golfers overpowering the layout. That’s not such an issue in matchplay golf though so Royal Melbourne is primed to be the real star of the show this week.
|Royal Melbourne Golf Club||Melbourne, Australia||7,047 Yards||N/A|
The Presidents Cup has been dominated by the United States ever since its introduction in 1994. The International Team have won the cup only once and save for a tied match in South Africa in 2003, every other renewal went the way of the USA. Each edition of the Presidents Cup is accompanied by suggestions that the International Team includes more talent than ever but the USA won by a huge eight point margin two years ago as they started taking the tournament more seriously to help improve on their recent Ryder Cup record.
|2017||United States||Liberty National||19-11||8 Points|
|2015||United States||Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea||15½ – 14½||1 Point|
|2013||United States||Muirfield Village||18½ – 15½||3 Points|
|2011||United States||Royal Melbourne||19-15||4 Points|
|2009||United States||Harding Park||19.5-14.5||5 points|
Analysis: Aussie Crowds will be a Factor
Patrick Reed is the big story heading into the Presidents Cup. The 2018 Masters Champion has long been a difficult character and if anybody was going to get caught up in a rules controversy it was likely to be Reed. His two shot penalty for improving his lie at the Hero World Challenge has been the talk of golf, with some members of the International Team making sure to stir the pot. Cameron Smith out and out called Reed a cheater which is sure to rile up the Australian golf fans.
A number of commentators have suggested that Reed is blissfully unaware of the sort of treatment he will get from the Australian golfing public. Aussie sports fans can be a rowdy bunch at the best of times so having a bogeyman to rally against should ensure a highly partisan atmosphere at Royal Melbourne. The American players will need to deal with any hostility that comes their way and concentrate on their golf or else there could be a betting upset.
Too Much Quality in the American Ranks
Some of the members of the United States team have first-hand experience of a partisan golf crowd. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed fed off the atmosphere created by the home fans at Hazeltine National in the 2016 Ryder Cup. That helped them get over the line in a tournament which has proved very difficult for American teams over the last 20 years or so. They’ve had no such problems in the Presidents Cup and, as mentioned above, are hopeful of using the 2019 Presidents Cup as preparation for the 2020 Ryder Cup in Wisconsin.
There is no doubt that the Australian crowds will make things tougher for the American players but they remain the strong favourites with the bookies. Betfred go top priced about the United States at 4/9 which does look a fair price when you consider the quality of the Americans. Not only are three of the current four major champions in the American team but two of them – Tiger Woods and Gary Woodland – needed a captain’s pick to get in.
Woods is the most interesting captain’s pick because he is the American captain. Seemingly nothing is beyond the greatest golfer of all time but he will certainly have his hands full as the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in 1994. The Americans will also face a hungry, talented International Team but the ‘home’ side may struggle for a lack of unity and experience whilst the United States’ extra quality makes them very worthy favourites.
Thomas and Oosthuizen Could Be Set for a Big Week
Justin Thomas will be a mainstay of American team golf for many years to come. The world number four has already achieved a great deal in the game but he seems to particularly relish the challenge of team golf. Thomas has a close relationship with a number of his teammates including Woods so is likely to get a lot of playing time this week. He’s also an excellent matchplay golfer so looks a good bet to be the top American points scorer at 5/1 with Ladbrokes.
For the International Team, Louis Oosthuizen has an important role to play. The South African is a veteran of the Presidents Cup so will surely be tasked with helping some of the rookies through their first taste of it. He is also a world class golfer with a game that is suited to Royal Melbourne so must do some heavy lifting in terms of point scoring if the Internationals are to have a chance. Oosthuizen is acclimatised and in good form having just missed out on winning the Australian Open last week so can top score for his team at 6/1 with Coral.
Final Verdict: United States to Win
The 2019 Presidents Cup seems to have a bit more of a buzz about it than recent tournaments. The return to Royal Melbourne has helped as has some recent controversy and the atmosphere is sure to be brilliant. It’s going to be a top class event but don’t expect much of an upset in the betting with the United States the most likely winners by some stretch at 4/9 with Betfred.
About the Presidents Cup
The Presidents Cup is essentially a variation of the Ryder Cup with the European side being replaced by a global, international team. The first ever Presidents Cup was held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia, USA back in 1994. Every two years, United States and a Rest of the World team (without Europe) compete for the Presidents Cup trophy. The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia hosted the most recent event in 2019 (the tournament switched from even to odd years following the 9/11 attacks).
This tournament has taken place across various golf courses in different countries throughout the years, with only two venues having hosted it more than once (Robert Trent Jones Golf Club has been used four times and Royal Melbourne Golf Club three times). The first two events were both held in America, but since then it has alternated between the States and an international venue, with South Africa, Canada, South Korea and Australia all having their turn thus far.
Team USA have a stunning record in this competition, with the Rest of the World winning just one of the 13 Presidents Cups. The Americans will be hoping to win the next edition, which takes place on home soil at the Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2021.
Each Presidents Cup has an Honorary Chairman, with the winners of the competition picking up the Presidents Cup trophy. Since 1994, American presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have all been an Honorary Chairman of this event.
Presidents Cup Honorary Chairmen
|1994||Gerald Ford – 38th President of the United States|
|1996||George H.W Bush – 41st President of the United States|
|1998||John Howard – 25th Prime Minister of Australia|
|2000||Bill Clinton – 42nd President of the United States|
|2003||Thabo Mbeki – 2nd President of South Africa|
|2005||George W. Bush – 43rd President of the United States|
|2007||Stephen Harper – 22nd Prime Minister of Canada|
|2009||Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States|
|2011||Julia Gillard – 27th Prime Minister of Australia|
|2013||Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States|
|2015||Park Geun-hye – 11th President of South Korea|
|2017||Donald Trump – 45th President of the United States|
|2019||Scott Morrison – 30th Prime Minister of Australia|
The format of this biennial event has been tweaked a number of times over the years but is broadly similar to that of the Ryder Cup (which has also been modified many times). The key difference between the two events is that the Presidents Cup is played over four days, not three.
In common with the Ryder Cup the final day sees all 12 players in singles action. Another commonality is that the days prior see a mix of fourballs and foursomes, although since 2005 only the third day has seen both formats played on the same day, with the opening two days seeing either one or the other, and the smallest number of matches (just five since 2015).
With format changes the total points have varied over the years, with the magic number needed to win varying accordingly. Since 2015 there have been a total of 30 matches played, making 15.5 points the target needed to win the cup outright.
America’s Excellent Record
Since Hale Irwin led team America to glory in the inaugural event in 1994, USA have dominated the Presidents Cup. The 1996 version was a lot closer, but the Americans reigned supreme against the International Team once again, edging it 16 ½ – 15 ½.
In 1998 the International Team scored their only victory to date, an astounding 20 ½ – 11 ½ win in Melbourne. As we can see in the table below, the US side returned the favour two years later, with a little interest too, before 2003 saw the only ever tie in the history of the event.
Those early years suggested we might have a really fascinating contest on our hands but since the tie in 2003, Team USA have won each of the last eight Presidents Cups. In fact, America have won 11 of the 13 tournaments. The USA’s first four wins were all at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, their first win away from home not coming until 2007, in Montreal. In the 2019 event in Melbourne, Tiger Woods captained the US to a 16-14 victory over Ernie Els’ International Team, no doubt a bitter blow for the South African given how many times Woods beat him in major championships!
US Wins in the Presidents Cup
Nicklaus a Worthy Captain
Jack Nicklaus is without doubt one of the best golfers to have ever lived and for many pundits he is simply the number one. ‘The Golden Bear’ made a huge impact on this competition, captaining USA to victories in 2005 and 2007. However, Nicklaus was also team captain when the Rest of the World picked up their one and only success back in 1998 and he could also only manage a tie in 2003.
No player in Presidents Cup history has been captain on more occasions than Nicklaus (four). Jack’s class of 2007 – when he last skippered the team – sealed a 19 ½-14 ½ victory over Gary Player’s team of international stars. In terms of International captains, Player, Aussie Peter Thomson and Nick Price (Zimbabwe) have all led their teams three times.
Austin’s 2007 Plunge
In that 2007 Presidents Cup, America’s Woody Austin had a moment to forget. Austin hit the pond with a wayward effort, but rather than taking a penalty shot, he tried to hit the ball out of the water, something he would come to regret for the rest of his life. Woody, the oldest player on the team at 43, missed the ball completely, falling face-first into the water after slipping on rocks. He turned up for Sunday’s action wearing a snorkel – check out the footage below!
International’s One and Only Success
In the third Presidents Cup, Peter Thomson’s International Team recorded a big win over Jack Nicklaus’ USA. It was the first tournament to be held outside of the States, with the Rest of the World taking full advantage in Melbourne, going on to secure a comfortable 20 ½-11 ½ victory.
It was the second largest margin of victory in Presidents Cup history, as America were well beaten in Australia. It was a memorable occasion for the International Team, with then Prime Minister of Australia John Howard appointed Honorary Chairman of the event.
Thrilling Tie in Western Cape
The 2003 Presidents Cup at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club in George Western Cape, South Africa will always be an unforgettable one. South Africa’s Gary Player captained the International Team against Nicklaus’ USA.
The tournament ended in a tie for the first and only time in the event’s history, as neither side could pull away from the other in the 17-17 stalemate. After three tied playoff holes between Woods and Els, the captains and players decided to share the cup. Team USA got their trophy back two years later, though, winning 18 ½-15 ½ on home turf in Gainesville.