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U.S. team too competitive to be complacent as heavy Presidents Cup favorites

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CHARLOTT, North Carolina. In the mid-2010s, when Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed formed the most trusted partnership on Team USA, they implemented an interesting strategy.

They wanted to beat each other’s brains.

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Unusually, of course, Spit once explained that neither player liked the idea of ​​the other getting more points for winning. And so they competed with each other, thinking that if each of them played at a high level, their opponents would have to be almost flawless in order to defeat them. Somehow it worked when the duo went 8-1-3 and then split ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup.

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This ultra-competitive mindset has infiltrated this American team, but on a larger scale. And healthier.

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“It’s like we’re all going to be competing against each other to get the most points on our team,” Speth said this week at Quail Hollow. “We want our own team to show off.”

That’s why talk of American complacency at the Presidents’ Cup is so misguided.

Full score of the Presidents Cup match

Look at the line-up of this young American roster – there is no timidity here.

They are programmed to crush their competitors.

That’s all they ever knew.

Spieth is the most experienced member, having struggled with the format from a young age. His partner is Justin Thomas, who burns as hot as everyone on the tour. Patrick Cantley and Xander Schauffele have shown themselves to be cold-blooded killers not only individually, but especially together as partners, unflappable, unwavering and adamant. Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner have built successful careers on alleged snubs or snubs. And so on.

“Everything is very different,” Schauffele said, “but we have the same endurance, struggle and desire to win. So it’s really special because of that.”

There is no doubt that the International Team has been heavily affected by the wave of defections from the LIV.

All the Americans did was shrug their shoulders.

The most intriguing couples ahead of the Presidents’ Cup

The most intriguing couples ahead of the Presidents' Cup

Of course, they admit, it’s a pity for team captain Trevor Immelman, who for three years tried damn hard to build on the momentum of 2019, but his progress was slowed first by COVID and then by players who ran away. As a result, this year’s team included eight rookies – perhaps the fresh start it needed after going 1-11-1 in this tournament.

But American bettors don’t pity or downplay their opponents, and they don’t approach the challenge differently, even if the bookies consider them huge favorites with a predicted win margin of 6 ½ points.

“I think it’s going to be a very competitive matchup,” Spit said, doing his best to suppress any pre-tournament narrative. “We are not calm. I didn’t hear a single drop of smugness in our command room at all. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

As well as none of Davis Love III’s support staff. After all, it was Love who led the 2012 Ryder Cup team, which went down 10-6 on the final day. Memories of that unfortunate day in Medina still haunt the members of the team.

“We weren’t rushing or doing the right things,” said Steve Stricker, who played for the ’12 team that suffered the biggest last day crash in cup history. Perhaps we didn’t think about it enough.

And so when Stricker captained the 2021 Ryder Cup, he was determined to act differently. Knowing that the Europeans would have no choice but to fill their squad with a six-shot deficit, the Americans competed force with force. Tiger Woods wrote to the team to “step on their neck”. Even the normally reserved Cantley stomped around, reminding his teammates to “lock in” and try for 20 points.

The Americans canceled out the European rally before it even took place, without scoring 20 points, but with a historic 19-9 victory that heralded a new era of American dominance.

This ruthlessness carried over to Quayle Hollow.

“There is no complacency here,” Stricker said. “These guys know that over 18 holes, anyone can beat anyone at this level. There isn’t one of them who doesn’t take it very, very seriously.

Lessons from the Ryder Cup apply to the Presidents Cup

Lessons from the Ryder Cup apply to the Presidents Cup

“That was Davis’ approach to it and the messaging – we can’t think we can just show up and win this case. We have to go out and play well and do things.”

This is where personal pride comes in.

This is one of the strongest and deepest American teams ever (average world rating: 11.8), and each of them strives to become an MVP in order to earn the right to brag among this brilliant group. Conversely, no one wants to be remembered as the weakest link, as the player with the fewest points in what should be a dominant squad.

“Obviously we don’t play against each other, but I think we are proud of our individual results,” Finau said. “These are the guys you respect. These are the best of the best. I think we all want to have a great album this week.”

Even if there is not enough strength for this Presidents Cup weekend, these individual scores will remain vital. Some of these American stars have already made it into the Hall of Fame, but who knows? – their reports in pounds sterling can be decisive factors in the future. Others, like youngsters Cam Young and Sam Burns, want to make their cup debut properly. Veterans like Kisner and Horschel could audition for next year’s Ryder Cup in Italy.

“These are the most competitive guys I’ve ever met,” Morikawa said. “All professional athletes are competitive, but when you put us – especially golfers who are so individualized – together in the same room, we are so self-governing that complacency really doesn’t matter. Deep down we all know that this is happening within us and we strive to be the best.”

Because being the best on your team most likely means being the best in the entire tournament. Good luck beating this.


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