Presidents Cup ready to roll Down Under!

It’s not the Ryder Cup, nor will it ever approach the luster that comes with the match between the United States and Europe that takes placed every two years. But the Presidents Cup is still a fun, nationalistic four days of golf when the United States faces the International team (everyone else from outside of Europe) in the off years from the Ryder Cup.

The event started in 1994 as golf popularity grew around the world, thus the inclusion of the rest of the countries around the world outside of Europe.

This year’s Presidents Cup takes place at the iconic Royal Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The time difference affords comfortable viewing for golf fans in the United States.

Wednesday is the opening day with the Golf Channel coverage going from 2:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. PDT. Thursday will see live coverage from 4 p.m. until 12 a.m. Friday is the long day of the event with coverage going from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Finally, on Saturday the singles matches will be live from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

While the Ryder Cup has seemingly been residing in Europe in recent history, the opposite has been the case the Presidents Cup with the United States holding a 10-1-1 record in the event.

The lone International victory came in 1998 over the same Royal Melbourne course when the Internationals put a 20.5-11.5 hurting on the U.S. side. The lone tie came four years later in South Africa when the two teams tied 17-17. There was a one-on-one playoff in that event, but as Tiger Woods and Ernie Else battled through three holes even and with darkness rapidly approaching, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed for it to be a tie.

Now you have Els and Woods as the two captains, with Woods a playing-captain, only the second time in 20 years of the event. Hale Irwin in 1994 – the first year of the event – was the lone other playing captain.

And looking at the two rosters – at least on paper – the advantage lies firmly with the United States, with the Internationals putting forth a young and inexperienced team in the International competition.

The rosters are as follows.

United States: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger Woods, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler.

The International team: Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Abraham Ancer, Haotong Li, C.T. Pan, Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, Byeong Hun An.

The format is as follows: Wednesday – 5 Foursome matches; Thursday – 5 Four-ball matches; Friday: 4 Foursome matches, 4 Four-ball matches; Saturday – 12 singles matches.

Foursome matches are alternate shot with the two players taking turns hitting a shot, playing one ball between the two of them. Four-ball is competition where each player golfs their own ball and the team takes the lowest of the two scores.

In the previous Presidents Cup competitions, each player was required to play in two matches before the singles. This year that has been reduced to one mandatory appearance before the singles round.

One of the big stories heading into the event involves Reed, a lightning rod for the United States.

Last weekend, Reed was penalized two strokes in the Hero World Challenge for improving his line of play of play from a bunker on Friday in the tournament. Reed ended up finishing two strokes back of winner Henrik Stenson, basically costing himself a chance at the title.

Replays of the incident did not look good for Reed as it does appear that he was trying to better his position by moving sand in the waster bunker with practice swings. It certainly has been a topic of conversation around the world and has been a big issue into the Cup.

Cameron Smith, an Australian on the International team went as far as suggesting the fans should heckle Reed on the course.

“I hope so,” Smith said in an interview. “I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone [on the American team] next week.”

Reed has denied the allegations and has maintained if there was a head-on shot it would show he wasn’t trying to make his shot easier. Smith wasn’t buying it.

“If you make a mistake maybe once, you could maybe understand,” said Smith. “But to give a bit of a bulls**t response like the camera angle – that’s pretty up there.”

It will be interesting to see how Reed handles what figures to a be hostile crowd. Most players would seem to have a problem with it, but Reed is perhaps the lone player in golf that seems to thrive on being the villain.

I for one am rooting for a Smith-Reed singles match on Saturday. My thoughts are it would be Smith that loses some concentration especially if Reed is playing well.

By Dennis Miller