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The 2022 Presidents Cup has finally returned after a three-year hiatus created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last seen at Royal Melbourne in Australia during the winter of 2019, a highly-contested bout between an underdog international group and a favored United States squad played out in dramatic fashion.
With the international team taking a two-point edge into Sunday singles, any and all results were still on the table. The U.S. team, led by playing captain Tiger Woods, pulled off the comeback down under, winning the Sunday session to the tune of 8 to 4 and the overall match 16 to 14. Bettering its record to 11-1-1 in the history of the Presidents Cup, it was thought the U.S. had finally been caught in terms of skill, analytical prowess and strategy in this competition.
Fast forward to the present and not only are new faces present, the aura around the event has changed. The upstart international side is no longer a pesky underdog but rather a team holding on by the threads after LIV Golf poached key cornerstone pieces Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann.
In their place is a crop of young, hungry players hoping to prove captain Trevor Immelman correct and the wider golf public wrong. Tasked with defeating a stacked U.S. roster that features last week’s Fortinet Championship winner Max Homa, an array of major champions and a bevy of firepower, the international team is up against it.
Will the experience of Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott lead the international team in this David vs. Goliath matchup? How will young rookies Cameron Young and Sam Burns fare in their first U.S. appearance? Is there anyway this will be a competitive contest? The answers to these questions lie on the shoulders of 24 men and based on their play, the answers may vary.
After Homa’s win in Napa and Kevin Kisner’s slight rise, all 12 U.S. players find themselves inside the top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings. Coming in at an average of 11.6, it is a stout front that is sure to give the internationals all they can handle. Despite this depth of talent, it is a relatively young group in terms of experience.
With neither Woods nor Dustin Johnson at the helm, it is Jordan Spieth who has become the headman in the locker room. Taking on this leadership role alongside his good friend Justin Thomas, the two will have combined for 13 U.S. appearances between them all before turning 30.
Jordan Spieth is suddenly the most experienced man on the U.S. side. After debuting as a 20-year-old in the ’13 Presidents Cup, he has been on every team except the ’19 Presidents Cup. In seven appearances, has garnered a record of 16-6-3 in the team portion and 0-6-1 in singles
This equals the number of appearances of Homa, Kisner, Young, Burns, Billy Horschel, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay. Thomas should have fond memories of Quail Hollow Club as he notched his first PGA Championship victory here in 2017. Homa collected his first PGA Tour win in Charlotte as well, but outside of them and Kisner, the other nine have yet to collect a top-10 result.
So, while on paper this U.S. team should roll to a convincing victory, there are certainly cracks in its armor that the international could expose. Needing only five new additions since the 2021 Ryder Cup, current form, continuity and home course advantage all lie in the hands of the U.S. but so do heavy expectations.
Si Woo Kim
The turnover from 2019 is glaring as Matsuyama, Scott and Sungjae Im are the only players who competed at Royal Melbourne. Factor in Si Woo Kim’s participation at Liberty National in 2017, and the South Korean rounds out the short list of players who have been members of past international teams.
Scott is set to play in his 10th Presidents Cup as he has been a mainstay in the competition since the early 2000s. Playing his way into the Tour Championship from outside the top 70, the Australian is in fine form and is still in search of his first team victory as his debut came in the 17-17 tie of 2003.
With little team experience under their belts and an average world ranking of 48.9, I wouldn’t say the internationals are completely done for as they faced a similar task in 2019. Half have won on the PGA Tour over the last two seasons with Tom Kim’s victory at the 2022 Wyndham Championship being the most recent. His fellow countryman, Im, ran rapid in the Tour Championship, nearly stole the FedEx Cup from Rory McIlroy and will have to serve as the catalyst if they are to pull off the improbable.
World Ranking at the #PresidentsCup
Best International: Adam Scott, 18th
Scott 11th-best overall on both rosters
Average USA OWGR: 12.2
Best International: Hideki Matsuyama, 17th
Matsuyama 11th-best overall on both rosters
Average USA OWGR: 11.6
Im, Matsuyama and Scott will most likely play in each session as will Conners despite being a first timer. Captain Immelman will have to rely on what little experience he has and marry it with the scoring abilities of Munoz, Lee, Davis among others. If able to effectively do this, there is a path to victory — albeit a narrow one.
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