For the first time since 1996, the Presidents Cup will start with Four Ball format on the first day of competition. Four Ball is the two-man game where each player plays his own ball, and the best of the two scores is matched against the opponent's best ball. Foursomes is the other two-man game, and that's an alternate shot format which is typically much trickier for these pros who are always picky about controlling every circumstance surrounding every shot.
It was the International side that lobbied for the switch to Four Ball on the first day. The International group typically flies in from all over the world allowing little time for practice, and has far less experience playing with one another in the past. The American side gets to run through this format annually, alternating between the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup but the turnover every year on the International team is much more dramatic. That makes alternate shot, using another player's ball more difficult. It's an easier start to the week by playing your own ball.
The American team has owned the Presidents Cup largely by jumping out to insurmountable leads early in the weekend, dominating Foursomes on Thursday and never looking back. But the PGA Tour relented to try and make things a little more competitive, so the switch was made.
In a dramatic! made-for-TV announcement segment just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, captains Nick Price and Fred Couples set the lineups in the media center on Wednesday afternoon. There were no real surprises in the pairings, based on everything we've heard and seen this week. The only thing up for debate was the order, and how each captain would counter the first announced team (they alternated going first). Here's the Thursday afternoon lineup for Four Ball, which will start around 11:45 a.m. ET at Murifield Village (International team on the left and American duo on the right).