The Presidents Cup tees off in Columbus this week, and it's the last big event on the 2013 golf calendar. It features the biggest names in the game, but it does not yet have the appeal of the Ryder Cup, which many more casual fans follow every two years. Here's a primer on the Presidents Cup, including this year's rosters with player profiles for each golfer.
The Presidents Cup is a team competition with 12 players on each side, one comprised of American golfers and another International team of non-European golfers who would not be eligible for the Ryder Cup. The usual International roster is mostly made up of South Africans and Australians, with a team member or two from Asia, South America and Canada also joining the group.
The PGA Tour created the event in the early 1990s, encouraged by the global rise of the game and the desire of many of those players to get a crack at an American team they were forced to watch on TV every two years at the Ryder Cup. But it's not been competitive like the Ryder Cup has over the past 25 years, with the International side winning just one of the nine events and the Americans typically rolling past by large margins that had the outcome decided before Sunday really warmed up. It's a critical year for the Internationals, who have to at least start challenging the American team to keep the event relevant.
A quick rundown of the short history of this event:
|2011||Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Melbourne, Australia)||United States||19 to 15|
|2009||Harding Park Golf Club (San Francisco, California)||United States||19½ to 14½|
|2007||Royal Montreal Golf Club (L'Île-Bizard, Quebec, Canada)||United States||19½ to 14½|
|2005||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (Gainesville, Virginia)||United States||18½ to 15½|
|2003||Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate (George, Western Cape, South Africa)||Tied||17 to 17|
|2000||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (Gainesville, Virginia)||United States||21½ to 10½|
|1998||Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Melbourne, Australia)||International||20½ to 11½|
|1996||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (Gainesville, Virginia)||United States||16½ to 15½|
|1994||Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (Gainesville, Virginia)||United States||20 to 12|
The Presidents Cup features 34 matches with 34 points up for grabs across four days. The schedule and setup is different from the Ryder Cup, with all 12 team members required to be out on the course for the first two sessions of the week on Thursday and Friday. There's no real hiding any players on the bench, which has been a big advantage for a much deeper USA team.
The first team to 17.5 points wins the cup. There is no "retaining" of the cup if there's a 17-17 split, so the the previous champion doesn't enjoy that advantage like they do at the Ryder Cup.
There are three types of matches this week, with each match always worth one point.
Four-ball: This two-man game allows each player to play his own ball from tee to bottom of the cup. The best ball of the two is matched up against the best ball of the two opponents to decide the hole. It's your standard weekend hacker partner game, and there are 11 total points available through this format
Foursomes: This is the more unique alternate shot format that's traditionally a challenge for the International side. The two-man team plays one ball, alternating shots from tee to the bottom of the cup. They also rotate each hole for who tees off, with each guy forced to hit nine tee shots. For world-class players who are control freaks about every circumstance on every shot, it's a pretty drastic change -- you're now likely playing a ball that's a different model from the one you regularly use, which does dramatically affect feel and distance control at this level of play. There are 11 total points available through this format.
This has been a whitewash for the International team, which doesn't have the luxury of playing it every year like the U.S. team and generally arrives from all over the globe allowing for just a couple days practice with unfamiliar partners. International captain Nick Price successfully lobbied the PGA Tour to bump this to the second day for the first time since 1996. That may make things more competitive and not put the Internationals in an instant deficit which forces them to play catch-up for the rest of the weekend.
Singles: The traditional Sunday format at both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. There will be 12 one-on-one standard matches rolled out across two-plus hours of tee times on Sunday afternoon. With all their depth, this has also been an advantage for the U.S. team in both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup (last year the big, glaring, notable exception).
Here are the full rosters for each team (click link for expanded preview profile for each player):
|1||Tiger Woods||Adam Scott|
|2||Brandt Snedeker||Jason Day|
|3||Phil Mickeson||Charl Schwartzel|
|4||Matt Kuchar||Ernie Els|
|5||Jason Dufner||Louis Oosthuizen|
|6||Keegan Bradley||Hideki Matsuyama|
|7||Steve Stricker||Branden Grace|
|8||Bill Haas||Graham DeLaet|
|9||Hunter Mahan||Richard Sterne|
|10||Zach Johnson||Angel Cabrera|
|Captain's Pick 1||Webb Simpson||Marc Leishman|
|Captain's Pick 2||Jordan Spieth||Brendon de Jonge|
The PGA Tour selected one of its most familiar partners for this year's Presidents Cup: Muirfield Village just outside Columbus, Ohio. It's the original architecture masterpiece for Columbus native Jack Nicklaus, who has now designed almost 300 courses around the world, none of which match Muirfield Village. This week, the course will become the only layout in the world to have hosted all three major cup competitions -- Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and now Presidents Cup.
It's a classic American parklands course that typically favors the longer hitters. The setup, however, should be more benign this week because grinding for pars and bogeys does not make for the most exciting match play setting. So the rough heights are relatively short and the greens are a bit damp, receptive to pinpoint irons and wedges coming into the flagsticks. The putting surfaces are also rolling slower than they would for the Memorial, at least at the start of the week. It's a bit surprising given the season, as the greens were expected to be more dried out and running fast this late in the year. But whether it's been rain, or deliberate setup by the PGA Tour, things are a bit slower and more receptive, which should yield birdies in bunches to provide quick and wild swings in these matches.
The course this week is also unique for a cup competition in that almost every player on both sides has played it, and usually multiple times. With the Memorial being one of the top annual PGA Tour stops, nearly all 24 guys have played the setup in tournament conditions. There's not quite the home advantage or need for catch-up recon for the visiting side that you usually get at the Ryder Cup. Japanese phenom Hideki Matsuyama is the only player totally unfamiliar with Muirfield Village.
One final note: the Presidents Cup is also different from the Ryder Cup because a neutral body, the PGA Tour, is largely in charge of course setup. The Ryder Cup, on the other hand, allows the home captain to decide how high the rough is, how wide the fairways are, how fast the greens are, and where the pin placements will be located, among other things. The captain in a Ryder Cup, therefore, can take input from his team on how to set things up and tip guys off to where the likely pin placements will be during competition and have them adjust their practice rounds accordingly.
The Presidents Cup forces all 12 players to play a majority of the sessions, but it also spreads things out a bit over four days, as opposed to the crammed three-day Ryder Cup setting. Saturday is the only double session, when there's Foursomes and Four-ball back-to-back. Here's the schedule for this week:
Thursday, Oct. 3 (6 points)
Six Four-ball matches -- tee times from 11:45 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. ET
TV coverage: Golf Channel, Noon to 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 4 (6 points)
Six Foursomes matches -- tee times from 1:10 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. ET
TV coverage: Golf Channel, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET
Saturday, Oct. 5 (10 points)
Five Four-ball matches -- tee times from 7:33 to 8:29 a.m. ET
Five Foursomes matches -- tee times from 1:21 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. (estimated)
TV coverage: NBC, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 6 (12 points)
Twelve Singles matches -- tee times from 12:04 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. ET
TV coverage: NBC, Noon to 6 p.m. ET