CHARLOTTE, NC — The USA Presidents Cup team includes five of the top 10 players on the Official World Golf Rankings. Nine of them are ranked in the top 15, the most from any one team in the event’s history.
The international team has none, after Australian Cameron Smith, the world’s No. 3 player and Open winner, joined the new LIV Golf circuit at the end of August.
History is also on the side of the Americans. They have won 11 of the last 13 Presidents Cup competitions, losing once and drawing another. Many of the same American players were part of the Ryder Cup team that beat the Europeans 19-9 at Whistling Straits a year ago, becoming the first team to score 19 points and win by 10 in that event more historical.
Add to that the fact that the Presidents Cup is being played on American soil, at Quail Hollow Club, in front of thousands of American fans starting Thursday, and it’s easy to see why Americans are heavily favored to win once again. more.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we’re the underdogs,” said international team captain Trevor Immelman. “We’ve usually been in this competition over the years, so it’s a tag we’re used to.”
According to Caesars Sports Book, Team USA is a -750 favorite to win the Presidents Cup. While anything could happen in four days of golf, a victory for an international team would be the equivalent of Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson or No. 16 seed Maryland-Baltimore County knocking out No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.
“Just because you’re the favorite doesn’t mean they give you extra shots,” said Team USA star Scottie Scheffler. “We don’t start 1-up. There are a lot of talented players on the PGA Tour. It’s a very deep tour, and the internationals obviously have a lot of talent on their side as well.”
Yet the outcome is expected to be so lopsided that a reporter on Tuesday asked US team captain Davis Love III if he feared becoming the next Dennis Conner, a reference to the yacht captain who infamously lost to an Australian boat in the 1983 America’s Cup, the New York Yacht Club’s first failed defense in the race’s 132-year history. Or, as the reporter put it, the “guy who could lose the inevitable.”
“I compared the Ryder Cup to the America’s Cup,” Love said. “Like nobody really cared about the America’s Cup until we started losing. Ted Turner lived down the street next to us in Atlanta, and nobody really cared until we started losing. that we were losing her. Then we said, ‘How could we lose a boat race, you know?’ We are the United States.”
American golf fans might feel the same way about the Presidents Cup if Love’s team is on the wrong side of the scoreboard this week.
“We’re used to being called favourites,” said Love, who has captained two Ryder Cup teams. “Even when we lose three Ryder Cups in a row, they tell us, ‘Oh, but they are the favourites.’ The other captain or the other team or [the media] remind us that we are the favourites. So we are used to that. It’s on paper, and a lot of great coaches will tell you that the game isn’t played on paper. They are played over there on the golf course.”
It’s not as if the international players haven’t achieved anything. Japanese Hideki Matsuyama and Australian Adam Scott won the Masters. South Koreans Si Woo Kim and Sungjae Im have won several events on the PGA Tour. Canadian Corey Conners, South Korean Tom Kim and Colombian Sebastian Munoz each won once.
“They are all elite athletes, and they reached the elite level playing on the PGA Tour,” Immelman said. “You don’t come here by accident, man, I can promise you that.” You don’t come here by accident. money and blood, sweat and tears to get to this level. You don’t wake up one morning and step onto the PGA Tour. These players are legit, all 24.”
Some, however, are more legitimate than others. The stacked American roster includes Scheffler, the highest ranked player in the world, and three other former great champions: Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth. Xander Schauffele won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Patrick Cantlay was the 2021 FedEx Cup champion.
Scheffler was the only four-time PGA Tour winner last season. Sam Burns has won three times. Tony Finau has won twice. Max Homa has won twice and successfully defended his title at last week’s Fortinet Championship, the first event on the wrap-up schedule for 2022-23. Cameron Young is expected to be named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
“I really can’t imagine being overconfident,” Homa said. “The international team is great, and we talk about it a lot, being favorites or whatever, but golf doesn’t really allow that. The layout of the golf course and everything is a big deal. So they have a great team. We have a great team. I think it will be a very good golf tournament.
There were bigger individual upheavals in golf: Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur, winning the 1913 US Open at his home course, the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to begin with. There have been surprising major championship winners, such as Larry Mize knocking out Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros in the 1987 Masters playoffs; South Korea’s YE Yang comes from behind to defeat Tiger Woods in the final round of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
The international team can also take inspiration from their captain, Immelman, who won the 2008 Masters by beating Woods by 3 strokes, just months after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball. who pressed on his diaphragm.
Immelman says having eight rookies on his 12-man roster could be an advantage. They have no scar tissue after eight consecutive defeats in the Presidents Cup. They weren’t part of the 2017 squad that trailed 14½ to 3½ after Saturday’s games at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“I think it frees us up because we have nothing to lose,” Immelman said. “If you look at our record in this tournament and you look at our world ranking versus their world ranking, we have absolutely nothing to lose.”
His advice to his team of underdogs: “Have fun and get ripped.”