Tournament History and Format
With the Ryder Cup going from strength to strength, the Presidents Cup was created to fill a most obvious void, giving players from outside of Europe the chance to experience the excitement of competitive team match play against the United States. The event was first staged in 1994 and this will be the 12th staging.
The format is similar to the Ryder Cup but the big difference between the two is that they play over four days here rather than three.
There was a slight change to the format after 2013 edition, with the number of points up for grabs being reduced from 34 to 30. The event will begin on Thursday with five foursome matches, followed by five four-balls on Friday. On Saturday, there will be four foursomes in the morning and four four-balls in the afternoon and the match will conclude on Sunday with the 12 singles matches.
Liberty National, Jersey City, New Jersey, New York.
Par 71, 7400 yards
Designed by Robert E Cupp and Tom Kite, Liberty National cost a reputed $250 million to build (on a former toxic landfill site) and it boasts such amenities as an on-site heliport, yacht services, a spa and a restaurant.
Situated under the gaze of the Statue of Liberty, it boasts an exclusive and rich membership that includes Phil Mickelson. The Liberty played host to what’s now called The Northern Trust (then known as The Barclays) in 2009 and 2013. Heath Slocum holed a 20-footer for par on the 18th to win with a nine-under-par total in 2009 and Adam Scott took the title four years later in 11-under-par.
It wasn’t particularly well received by the pros in 2009, with one player anonymously joking, “They took a perfectly good waste dump and ruined it,” and Tiger Woods said of Liberty National, “It’s interesting.” And when he was pressed further and asked whether he meant interesting in a good way, he merely repeated, “It’s interesting.”
Most of the gripes the players had were with the greens. Steve Marino said of them, “It seems like every green is raised a little bit and everything falls off to the side.” and Woods said, “I don’t think we’ve ever played greens with this much movement, about half your putts were double-breaking.”
Unsurprisingly, after all the negative feedback, changes were made to 14 of the 18 holes before the 2013 edition of The Barclays. The contouring on the greens were levelled out somewhat, fairways were widened and changes were made to the bunkering too.
The changes were well-received and the only change to the course this time around is the routing of the holes.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, beginning at 18:00 on Thursday.
2015 United States (15.5 – 14.5)
2013 United States (18.5 – 15.5)
2011 United States (19 – 15)
2009 United States (19.5 – 14.5)
2007 United States (19.5 – 14.5)
2005 United States (18.5 – 15.5)
2003 Tie 17-17
2000 United States (21.5 – 10.5)
1998 International Team (20.5 – 11.5)
1996 United States (16.5 – 15.5)
1994 United States (20 – 12)
US Team – Captained by Steve Stricker
Charley Hoffman (Captain’s Pick)
Phil Mickelson (Captain’s Pick)
International Team – Captained by Nick Price
Emiliano Grillo (Captain’s Pick)
Anirban Lahiri (Captain’s Pick)
For a complete breakdown of the two teams’ match play and Presidents Cup records, please see this link to Adam Sarson’s excellent database here, while our own Dave Tindall provides player guides for both the USA and International teams.
Team USA are long odds-on favourites and so they should be. The only slight negative I can see is that they might be slightly more fatigued than the International Team given how heavily most of them have featured in the FedEx Cup Playoffs but other than that, it’s impossible not to view them as overwhelming favourites.
This is the 12th edition of the Presidents Cup and so far the Internationals have lost nine, drawn one, and won one. They came mighty close last time in Korea and they even traded at [1.5] to win it but a missed putt from three feet by Anirban Lahiri in the penultimate tie and a duffed chip by Sang-Moon Bae in the final match-up cost the Internationals dear but it was a close match and a far closer match than I suspect we’ll witness this time around.
It can’t be easy to get a group of players from all across the globe to gel and they’ll always slightly lack the competitive edge of Team USA so they’re up against it before they start. The Internationals need to be at the very top of their game to compete and worryingly for them this time around, they’re not even close to that.
Hideki Matsuyama has been playing as though he’s had enough for the year of late, Adam Scot, who won The Barclays at Liberty National four years ago, isn’t the force he was, Jason Day has found a bit a form but it’s very patchy and the South African contingent of Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace are all winless this year and largely out of form. I just can’t see how they raise their games enough to get the better of a patriotic bunch in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty and I fear they could be in for a bit of a hiding.
Top American Points Scorer
These markets are always a gamble because it’s impossible to know how many matches each player is going to play and you can do your dough on someone purely because they don’t play enough.
Patrick Reed has been the top scorer at the last two Ryder Cups for Team USA and he’s a very obvious choice. He has a great record playing alongside Jordan Spieth but will Captain Stricker stick to that tried and tested formula not that Jordan’s big pal Justin Thomas has made the team?
One player that I think will get game time is the only man to feature in every previous Presidents Cup – Phil Mickelson. The Liberty member finished the week as the top scorer two years ago and he’s value to do so again this time around.
Top International Points Scorer
Marc Leishman flopped at East Lake last week but maybe that was understandable. He’d just secured his biggest career win at the BMW Championship and he may have had more than the few beers he had planned with his dad in celebration. If we can forgive that effort, he’s the most in-form player on the International Team and he’s almost certain to feature strongly.
Leishman’s record in the singles is two from two but it’s a bit of a guess as to how he’ll fare and who he’ll partner in the team ties. He’s been paired with various different partners in the past and to be fair to Leishman, they haven’t always been the strongest of partners. He’s lost ties alongside Richard Sterne, a declining Angel Cabrera, Danny Lee and Steven Bowditch. He picked up half a point alongside Adam Scott two years ago and he and Jason day narrowly lost to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth so when he’s been paired with one of the stronger players he hasn’t fared badly.
Crucially, Leishman played every session two years ago and I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t this time around. Who he’ll partner is largely guesswork but if he can get a point or two going in to the singles he’ll have a great chance of finishing the week as the Top International Points Scorer.
Top Debutant Points Scorer
Justin Thomas is a strong and fairly priced favourite in this market but I’m going to take a tiny chance on Charley Hoffman. There seems to be a groundswell of believe that the Hoff will get to play with Mickelson and if that does happen, I fancy there’s a chance the two could be the surprise package. If Charley gets bloodied on Thursday and he and Phil win handsomely they may prove impossible to drop. As always with these markets, there are a lot of ifs and buts but there’s enough in Hoffman’s price to take a chance.
He’s a top drawer player who looks just the type to get up for this and he could just prove to be one of Captain Stricker’s prize assets.
Big hitters will no doubt pile in to the 4/11 available on Team USA and I doubt there’ll encounter much stress and the 4/5 with the Sportsbook looks fair on Team USA -3.5 points but I was hoping for a range of handicaps. I’d have rather played at a bigger price for a larger margin so I’ll leave that market alone and just look to play the three sides highlighted above.
I’ll be back on Thursday evening or Friday morning with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
Source: BETFAIR GOLF