This year’s Presidents Cup at Liberty National golf club turned out to be the most one-sided in recent memory, yet with so many rising stars on both sides, how did this happen?
USA! USA! USA! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/fPxAL3trzd
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) October 2, 2017
The score after day 3 stood at 14.5 points to the USA, 3.5 to the Internationals, and without Kevin Chappell’s generous gesture at the 18th hole, it could have been worse. Without trying to make any excuses for the Internationals, it is clear that playing together biannually as opposed to annually does impact their ability to discover strong partnerships.
Contrast this to the lethal US pairing of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth who have had the time to gel, playing supremely the last two Ryder Cups. Their record of 11 matches and 10 victories is unmatched by any of the International duos.
— Presidents Cup (@PresidentsCup) September 30, 2017
We must also bear in mind the fact that it is more difficult for an International team to unify around any commonality. They don’t share a nation, continent, national anthem and many of them speak totally different languages, this ultimately must have an impact on the strength of their partnerships.
It should be no surprise that the South African duo of Oosthuizen and Grace were the most competitive for the internationals despite their relatively cold individual form. Compare this to the formidable American duo of Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, childhood friends who play golf together regularly. It is undeniable that these two know each others game inside out and their decision-making during the foursomes format especially is more reliable.
The support of the American crowd played a significant role too, however, the Europeans have not been fazed by this in recent years, thus it is hardly a justifiable excuse.
— Presidents Cup (@PresidentsCup) October 2, 2017
Rather unsurprisingly, America’s dominance has come during the team matches specifically. Nick Prices’ team was able to dominate the Sunday singles, winning 7.5 of an available 12 points. Some may say the trophy was already won by that point, yet, the Internationals have taken more points during the singles on 4 of the last 7 occasions. Hideki Matsuyama, the highest-ranked international, was dropped on Saturday and cut a forlorn figure during the first 3 days. No one expected him to defeat the hottest man on the planet, Justin Thomas, producing a total of 8 birdies/eagles in the process. This once again highlights where the International strengths lie and also that of the Americans.
In the Sunday press conference, International Vice-captain Ernie Els eluded to the possibility of fewer matches in future Cups. A format similar to that of the Ryder Cup seems the ideal choice. It would not only give the international team a better chance at victory, making the spectacle greater, but it would also lend itself to better golf; following 36 holes on Saturday, it was clear that players on both sides were fatigued and just wanted a rest.
If the Presidents Cup is ever to reach the coverage and level of competitiveness of the Ryder Cup then such a change may have to take place. The Cup returns to Royal Melbourne in two years time, the site of the only international triumph back in 1998. If a format change takes root as well, then we can expect a far greater spectacle than what was viewed this year.