Presidents Cup 2017 Preview

Golfer lines up shot

We take a look at the 2017 Presidents Cup which gets underway this week at the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. 

The ugly step-sister to the adored Ryder Cup- the President’s Cup is an event that has struggled to retain relevancy.  This is clearly a consequence- primarily- of the fact that America have such a hegemonic hold on the event, winning 9 of 11 events, with 1 being tied whilst the Internationals picked up their sole victory in Melbourne. So while the Ryder Cup has seen a reasonable ebb and flow throughout the last 2 decades, the President’s Cup has come to encapsulate the gulf that exists between the USA and all other international countries.

The Presidents Cup | 28 September- 1 October | Liberty National Golf Club, New Jersey

The International side have never won in America, so one should the chants of U-S-A to reverberate loudly and proudly throughout the event. American captain Steve Stricker has publicly stated that the US side would not participate in any form of silent protest in solidarity with the NFL players this week. Tiger’s absence- clearly being the breakthrough African-American golfer- will be all the more poignantly felt. Nick Price is under no illusions as to the job that they face. He has publicly stated that the perennial problem for the international side is the fact there is no natural unity in the side. The sense of comradery that is so clearly present in both the States side and European Ryder Cup side is hard to replicate in a side comprising of so many disparate elements.

USA Team
Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Ricky Fowler, Charley Hoffman, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas

International Side
Jason Day, Branden Grace, Emiliano Grillo, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, Anirban Lahiri, Mark Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Jhonattan Vegas

Just one look at this American side tells you everything you need to know. Every single player is inside the top 30 in the world. It contains three of the world’s current major champions and also has an abundance of form golfers. The American side will be hoping to make it slightly more comprehensive that that one shot victory last time out in Korea. Recently crowned FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas is one of 6 first time participants. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson both narrowly missed out on the top prize and will be looking to end the year on a high note.

Key Players

Patrick Reed
Ok, Reed may not have had the most outrageous season, but his presence in the team format is hard to ignore. Some naysayers will view him as the archetype of everything that’s wrong with American golf. He riles up the crowds with a brash, take no prisoner’s attitude that is infectious for the side. Few will ever forget he remarkable dual with Rory McIlroy in the Ryder Cup, a match that will go down as one of the greatest Ryder Cup matches of all time.

Phil Mickelson
A big shout out has to go to Mickelson, who has played in every incarnation of this event. Sure, he was a captain’s pick this time around, but few would begrudge Old Lefty that honor. With the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup included, Mickelson has competed in 23 straight team events. Only Louis Oosthuizen in the field has a better win percentage then him in President’s Cup matches.

Jordan Spieth
I’ve opted for Spieth ahead of Thomas and Johnson. Justin Thomas may find it slightly difficult to keep his levels up after the exertions of last week. DJ has always struck me as someone far more adept at pursuing individual goals. Spieth has just been electrifying this year and has shown the capacity for outrageous individual moment: just look at the way he holed out to win the Travelers.

The International Side 
Clearly the American side has the advantage on paper. But Price will take solace from the manner in which this side performed in Korea last time out. There are some talented golfers and one suspects that Price will need to get the combinations right and pick up some ground in the fourballs and foursomes prior to Sunday’s head to head clashes. Si-Woo Kim is the current Player’s Champion, indicating that there is depth in this side.

Key Players

Branden Grace
Branden Grace became the first man in major history to shoot a 62 at the Open earlier this year. Grace was faultless in the last President’s Cup, picking up a maximum 5 points out of 5. His combination with compatriot Louis Oosthuizen was sensational and Price will no doubt be looking to stick with that formula this week. Grace is one of the players on this team who seems to revel in the pressure cooker atmosphere.

Jason Day
Day has shown glimpses recently that he could be returning to something resembling his best form. Few would probably argue that the Aussie is possibly still the world’s best player when he plays his best golf. Post-Tiger, I don’t think I’ve ever seen dominance of the type he had in that one golden period. This is also a personality pick. Day has the ability to work up his supporters and could galvanize the side.

Mark Leishman
Mark Leishman came out of seemingly nowhere to claim 6th place in the ultimate FedEx Cup standings. He is a player absolutely bang in form. His romp of a victory at the BMW is evidence of his ability to keep the nerves quelled. I think that Matsuyama has slightly gone off the boil in recent weeks and I feel that Leishman could be a strong international performer.

Verdict: USA to win at 7/20
There is just too much firepower in this American side. The question is really going to be of margin.There are now 30 points up for grabs as of 2015. I could easily see a score of 17-13, with the United States retaining the trophy. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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