It’s Presidents’ Cup week, and while it doesn’t generate the excitement everyone expected after the United States nearly eclipsed an international team in Australia three years ago, team golf at the highest level is always a thrill.
The heavily favored American side appears poised to smash Trevor Immelman’s international team, but the projection of the rout has often resulted in some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport. This week in Charlotte, Davis Love III leads the Stars and Stripes into a real-life David vs. Goliath situation. The level of play is uneven on both sides, but there are many more storylines to look out for at Quail Hollow Golf Club this week.
This event also represents a respite from the long (sometimes) slow individual stroke play we get throughout the year. Even after a big win at the Liberty National Golf Club in 2017, the days were still exciting. We saw future American stars, lots of couples on both sides, and the type of exhilarating celebration that a game of golf often offers.
Let’s take a look at a few of the stories that could unfold this week at Quayle Hollow and see what we’ll be watching for the rest of what should be an amazing week of golf.
1. Will you finish by Saturday? We know the first few days of golf are going to be explosive because the first few days of the Ryder Cups and President’s Cups are always fun, no matter the match or the score. You always get crazy strikeouts, weird golf-style celebrations, and interesting pairings that may or may not portend any team’s future. However, in 2017, the US led 14.5–3.5 after the Saturday matches, and the entire tournament ended entirely with a move to singles. This is rare even when the commands do not match; team competitions usually end before the last hours of the week. Hopefully there will be, but the threat of rowing exists here in a way that most recent team events have not (specifically last year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits).
2. Who No there: Usually at team events we discuss who was insulted by one of the captains. Instead, this year will be about those who have neglected themselves. No LIV Golf League players are allowed into the Presidents’ Cup, meaning international team stars such as Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Unser and Louis Ostwizen will be watching from home and possibly texting fellow LIV Golf players Bryson DeChambeau , Brooks Cap and Dustin Johnson. , all of whom have been pillars of Team USA for the past five years. While it shouldn’t (and won’t) be the main topic of the week, it’s yet another way LIV has infiltrated every crevice of the golf world, including one of the few sacred team weeks we host each year.
3. The course is suitable: One of the big topics of discussion this week is that even with the international team at full strength, the US advantage on a long, muscular track like Quayle Hollow would be too much for them to overcome. One of the reasons they nearly broke a 24-year winning streak at Royal Melbourne is because the course has moved away from the American team’s advantage (length) and into the hands of a treacherous, brash international team. Of the top nine golfers in Quail Hollow history who also participate in the event, seven are Americans. Furthermore, out of the top 10 is suitable for this course this week eight are Americans. It’s hard to imagine the course, or the way it’s organized, as anything other than an advantage for Love’s team.
4. Rookie ringers (both sides): This time I’m more intrigued than usual by watching the newbies. From the US side, Sam Burns, Max Homa, Billy Horschel and Cameron Young are interesting not only as players, but also as potential future US anchors (especially in the case of Burns, Homa and Young). Burns, Homa and Horschel are pretty active contenders and I expect them to thrive in a team environment. In an international team, they will draw on eight rookies, but the most compelling are 20-year-olds Tom Kim, Corey Conners, Taylor Pendrith and Cam Davis; the last two were chosen because they can match the firepower on the US side. If these four play to their relatively high ceilings, the team could be a bit bold.
5. US Leaders: Do you want to feel old? Jordan Spieth is the most experienced US player… in three tournaments (Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup). Even with LIV players in the mix, Spit and Justin Thomas would probably be the heart and soul of this American team, but now that DJ, Kepka and DeChambeau have fallen out of the picture, that is undoubtedly true. Phil Mickelson spoke about Spieth as the future guy for the USA, and it turned out to be true. This will be especially true this week without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as mates. JT and Spieth are an interesting duo. The latter is a chest-pounding monster who is 10-2-3 in tag team sessions at these tag team events, while the former is a calm, confident presence in the press tent and presumably in the dressing room for players who aren’t much younger than him. They should be what we thought Mickelson and Woods would be over the next 10 years in US team golf.
6. Top Sheff: I joked that the best player in the world and John Rahm played a Ryder Cup singles match last year, but this year it turned out to be no joke, Scheffler climbed to number one in OWGR after four wins at the start of the year. He may have been the surprise hero at his first US tag team last year, winning 2-0-1, but this year he’s not sneaking up on anyone. My question is if he can lead the way as one of the Americans with the biggest targets on his back.
7. Advantage of fours: A big problem for an international team, besides the fact that three of their players are in the top 25 of OWGR.— is that she hasn’t been able to compete as a four-man at this event for the past two decades. The statistics below are shocking. National team players have actually beaten Team USA in singles and leveled them in four ball over the past 15 years, but absolutely set on fire in fours. This is something to keep an eye on throughout the week.
8. Pairings from USA: I care too much about the little things on the US side and I think we’ll probably get a few pairs this week that we’ve either already seen at the Ryder Cup or will see again next week. year in Rome. Here are the capsules for the first two days of the USA training rounds.
Burns-Scheffler is an obvious pairing. As well as JT-Spieth and Cantlay-Schauffele. Finau is so malleable in terms of personality that you can pair him with any of the three guys in his group and it could make sense. Kisner and Horschel are pretty interesting, and while they don’t necessarily hit the charts statistically at Quayle Hollow, they could be a nightmare to run into. Morikawa-Homa is a ball kicking extravaganza. I can’t wait to see how they play out.
9. What does the future of the US look like after the upbeat developments in Whistling Strait? I wrote about the USA Dream Team, which this time invaded Lake Michigan a year ago. At that moment, the future seemed indelible, and red, white and blue seemed invincible. However, almost half of that team left (either due to LIV or injury), and several question marks took their place. This year’s President’s Cup won’t determine what the future of team golf in the US will look like, but it may actually be more representative of what the next five years will look like than last year’s Ryder Cup. It would be surprising if this led to more an optimistic outlook given the talent in this team and what has been lost, but it could lead to a similar unified group heading into the future of the Ryder Cups and Presidents’ Cups against the best players from the rest of the world.