GET INTO GOLF: Breaking down the President’s Cup
The attempt to create interest in the PGA Tour during the country’s cooler months has had a nominal effect for the average viewer. The so-called ‘wrap around’ schedule and some high profile events in Asia have helped, but we still can’t seem to get too far away from the silly season.
Yet, next week’s international matches should have everyone’s attention. Although we play an essentially individual sport, next week’s televised event is a team competition known as the President’s Cup.
The President’s Cup is a biennial event that alternates each year with the Ryder Cup. Where the Ryder Cup is a match between the United States and the United Kingdom, the President’s Cup is a match (or series of matches) between the United States and the rest of the world.
The Ryder Cup Matches have been played for decades, dating back to 1927. However, it was limited to players from the USA and a collection of islands. So, in 1994 the PGA Tour created the President’s Cup, a team of non-UK, International players with former President Gerald Ford as the honorary chairman.
This year’s International team of 12 players is represented by nine countries and is primarily determined by the World Golf Rankings (based on each player’s performance). The United States team is primarily determined by earnings on the 2019 PGA FedEx List.
Tiger Woods is the United States’ team captain (a player-captain which we discussed a few weeks ago) and includes Brooks Kaepka, Dustin Johnson, and Patrick Reed. This will be Tiger’s first year as captain, after being part of six winning President’s Cup teams.
Ernie Els (South Africa) was chosen as the International team captain. Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama lead a talented squad that includes major winners Adam Scott (Masters) and Louis Oosthuizen (British Open). However, there are seven rookies on this team and this is a big stage even for those who have earned their way on the team.
Ironically, it was Els and Woods that played to a tie in the fifth President’s Cup some 16 years ago. Following the scheduled matches, the event was square. Woods and Els would go on to tie three playoff holes before it was decided to end the match.
The format of individual and two-man team match-play is drawn from the Ryder Cup. The captains are responsible for pairing the team matches which consist of both alternate shot and best ball formats (also known as “foursome” and “four ball”).
Rather than the common form of ‘stroke play’ that we see almost every week on Tour, the form of the President’s Cup is ‘match play.’ It doesn’t matter what a player’s total score might be, it matters how points have been won.
Each match, whether a team or singles match, is worth one point. With nine foursome (two player teams) matches, nine four-ball (two player teams) matches and 12 singles matches that represents a total of 30 points (half points are awarded to each side in the event of a tie). To win the President’s Cup a team must accrue a total of 15.5 points.
Playing for your team, playing for your country and playing a different format is a challenging change of pace for veteran and rookie alike. Starting Thursday, turn on Golf Channel and watch the world’s best players at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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