The Presidents Cup gets underway Thursday at Muirfield Village with one session of Four-ball. Unlike the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup spreads out across four days, playing just one session on Thursday and Friday. But it also leaves no room to hide any players those first two days, with all 12 players on each team getting out in a two-man format across six matches. The Ryder Cup lets the captains put two guys on the bench in every session except Sunday singles, so there's definitely a different strategy for the Americans in this one.
The six-match schedule on the first two days is typically an advantage for the American side, which is always much deeper than the Internationals. Captain Nick Price did successfully lobby for a change in the format on the opening day that should give the International team a bit of an advantage. For the first time since 1996, the Four-ball format will start the competition. It's usually been Foursomes, which is the much harder alternating shot format where two players play one ball. Instead, in Four-ball, each golfer will play his own ball in to the hole and match the best ball against the best score of the two-man opposing team.
The International side had historically been trounced in Foursomes, with many of the players totally unfamiliar with their teammates and flying in late from all over the world for just a day or two of prep work. That's a tough way to start off the week, especially when so many of these guys are control freaks about every shot and now all of a sudden are relying on another player and potentially using a different ball with different feel and distance than they are used to.
As opposed to the one-sided Foursomes results, the Internationals have hung with the U.S. in Four-ball, so the change could be a big boost to make things more competitive. The early deficits have put the International side in a constant state of chasing the past few Presidents Cups, and that never works well.
With only one session of six matches, the PGA Tour will hold the first tee time until almost noon (ET) in Columbus. Golf Channel comes on the air right at Noon, so almost every shot of every match will be shown. There were no major surprises in the pairings announced on Wednesday, with pretty much every two-man team what we expected based on the practice rounds and hints dropped throughout the past month. Here's the lineup:
|Tee Time||International Pairing||USA Pairing|
|11:45 a.m.||Jason Day & Graham DeLaet||Hunter Mahan & Brandt Snedeker|
|11:59 a.m.||Adam Scott & Hideki Matsuyama||Bill Haas & Webb Simpson|
|12:13 p.m.||Louis Oosthuizen & Charl Schwartzel||Phil Mickelson & Keegan Bradley|
|12:27 p.m.||Ernie Els & Brendon de Jonge||Steve Stricker & Jordan Spieth|
|12:41 p.m.||Angel Cabrera & Marc Leishman||Matt Kuchar & Tiger Woods|
|12:55 p.m.||Branden Grace & Richard Sterne||Zach Johnson & Jason Dufner|