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Renslow: Breaking down the Presidents Cup

Although we play an essentially individual sport, this week’s televised event is a team competition known as the Presidents Cup.

The Presidents 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 Europe, the Presidents 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 excluded non-European players. So, in 1994 the PGA Tour created the President’s Cup matches and former President Gerald Ford was the honorary chairman.



This year’s international team of 12 players is represented by eight countries and is determined by the World Golf Rankings (based on each player’s performance through August). The United States team is determined by earnings on the 2013 PGA Tour Money List.

The format of individual and two-man team match-play is drawn from the Ryder Cup, consisting of 12 players per side and a non-playing captain. The captains are responsible for pairing the teams in the doubles events, which consist of both alternate shot and best ball formats (also known as “foursome” and “four ball” matches).




Fred Couples is the United States’ team captain which is lead by Tiger Woods and includes Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and PGA champion Jason Dufner. This will be Couples’ third straight role as captain, winning the Cup in 2009 and retaining the trophy in 2011.

Nick Price (South Africa) was chosen as the International team Captain. Ernie Els and Adam Scott lead a talented squad that includes major winners Angel Cabrera (Masters) and Louis Oosthuizen (British Open).

However, rather than the common form of ‘stroke play’ that we see almost every week on tour, the form of the Presidents Cup is ‘match play.’ At the end of the day, 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 11 foursome doubles matches, 11 four ball doubles matches and 12 singles matches that represents a total of 34 points (half points are awarded to each side in the event of a tie). To win the Presidents Cup a team must accrue a total of 17.5 points.

The story this year is youth vs. experience. Although, as individuals, the international team has had success on the course, seven of the 12 players will be teeing it up for the first time in a Presidents Cup event.

Playing for a team, playing for your country (ies), and playing a different format is a challenging change of pace for veteran and rookie alike.

So, turn on Golf Channel and watch the world’s best players at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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