Presidents Cup Prediction: USA’s Firepower Will Overwhelm International Team

The 2017 PGA Tour schedule may have concluded, but rejoice – the Presidents Cup is here as the world’s top players tee it up one last time this season.

The United States has historically dominated the team event, with the exception of two years ago when the International players gave the nine-time champions a scare.

In the 2015 Presidents Cup, Bubba Watson left a short putt outside the hole which would have won his singles round against Thongchai Jaidee, while Jimmy Walker was upset by now relatively unknown Steve Bowditch. Those were two costly defeats which nearly gave the International side their first victory since 1998. Fortunately for the U.S., Sang Moon Bae chunked his chip shot on the final hole of the competition to give the Americans a one-point win.

This year’s Presidents Cup won’t be decided by that close of a margin.

The last time an International team defeated the United States in match play, it was the 2014 Ryder Cup. But the quality and depth featured on that U.S. squad lacked compared to this year’s assembled contingent. A guy like Hunter Mahan is now on the Tour, Jim Furyk was continuing his downward trend with a 36 percent all-time win rate in Ryder Cup play and others such as the aforementioned Watson and Walker just aren’t consistently better than players you’ll see this week.

The discussion in the days leading up to Thursday’s opening round at Liberty National Golf Club has been the inexperience of the United States. Six of the 12 players on the roster are rookies, so it’s easy for International captain Nick Price to say his team will have a familiarity advantage. But one of those rookies is Justin Thomas, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion who wrote at the start of the year that playing in the Presidents Cup was one of his top goals. He will embrace this moment and has proven there’s no stage he can’t handle.

Reigning U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka is another first timer, but his game is trending in the right direction which should leave no worries for U.S. captain Steve Stricker. Koepka completed his PGA Tour season with finishes of 18th, 12th and 6th.

“I think this is one of the better teams we’ve had,” assistant captain Tiger Woods said. “For the captains, it’s been tough trying to make pairings, because of the many options we have. It’s a great problem to have.”

Daniel Berger is another rookie who is a great fit for the team, surrounded by fellow players his age. There was worry that Kevin Kisner’s form would hurt the United States, but the 33-year-old, after four finishes outside the top 40, was the runner-up at the Tour Championship last weekend. If you had to point to a weakness for the Americans, it’s Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman. It’s no disrespect to them, because they are above average PGA Tour players, but both showed inconsistencies towards the end of 2017.

Even with that said, the United States has far better depth 1-12 which will be too strong. Beyond Branden Grace’s seventh spot, the International team has a major drop off with four of the five remaining players in the rankings being unimpressive Presidents Cup rookies.

Two important players for the International team: Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott. Oosthuizen went 4-0-1 at the 2015 Presidents Cup, while Scott has to play well in order for his team to have a chance.

Last time players competed at Liberty National for the 2013 Barclays, Scott won the event. But in match play where putting is so crucial, Scott has a disadvantage after ranking 89th in strokes gained putting this season. His all-time record in Presidents Cup competition supports that (13-17-5).

By comparison, the United States owns three of the top 12 ranked putters on the PGA Tour in 2017, highlighted by second-ranked Rickie Fowler. While the International team possess solid putters such as Adam Hadwin (18th) and Oosthuizen (22nd), it also has three of the worst on the PGA Tour, statistically – Jhonattan Vegas sits 171st, Hideki Matsuyama is 173rd and Si Woo Kim at 175th.

In terms of betting odds, the United States team is a -450 favorite to win. By comparison, the red, white and blue were -190 to win the 2016 Ryder Cup, and the Americans went on to win by six points.

Anything can happen in a match play format, but the United States force is too talented and will comfortably win their 10th Presidents Cup title.

Start the discussion

to comment