What you need to know ahead of the 2022 Presidents Cup

CHARLOTTE, NC — A lot has changed since the last Presidents Cup, when captain Tiger Woods led Team USA 2019 to a 16-14 win at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

Last week, it was announced that Greg Norman would go to Congress to defend LIV Golf, Cameron Smith won another $4 million on the LIV Golf Tour, and Max Homa defended his Fortinet Championship title.

While professional men’s golf remains more splintered than ever, the sport will come together – at least those players who are still eligible to play on the PGA Tour – at the 14th Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club starting Thursday.

One thing that stays the same? With five of the top 10 players in the world, USA captain Davis Love III’s side are once again strong favourites. The Americans have won eight straight and in 11 of the last 13 meetings. International team captain Trevor Immelman had to reshape his roster after several players, including Smith, defected to the LIV Golf Tour.

Love’s goal before the event is to make sure his team isn’t overconfident.

“I don’t think we need to do too much messaging or motivation,” Love said. “Certainly you never want to be part of a losing team, and we know we’re up against that. Trevor is going to have a team that has a chip on their shoulder and is motivated and wants to prove they can still be competitive. We have to be careful. These guys are definitely not going to fall asleep.”

Here’s what to expect at the Presidents Cup this week:

How it works

The Presidents Cup, which pits a 12-man US team against a 12-man international team (outside Europe), is a four-day match-play event. There are 30 games and the team with the highest point total after four days is the winner.

The schedule:

  • Thursday includes five foursome matches (alternate shots).

  • Friday includes five four-ball (best ball) matches.

  • Saturday features eight matches, split between four foursome matches in the morning and four drop matches in the afternoon.

  • Sunday’s final features 12 singles matches.

Each match is worth one point and both teams receive half a point for each draw. There is no playoff if the teams are tied after Sunday’s singles matches.

Who plays?

On paper, at least, Team USA would seem to be the overwhelming favorite to win another Presidents Cup. Each of Team USA’s 12 players is ranked in the top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings, including five of the top 10. The international team has only three players ranked in the top 25.

The average world ranking of US team members is 11.6; the international team average is 48.9.

The American team is made up of: Scottie Scheffler (world No. 1), Patrick Cantlay (No. 4), Xander Schauffele (No. 5), Justin Thomas (No. 7), Collin Morikawa (No. 9), Sam Burns (#12), Jordan Spieth (#13), Tony Finau (#14), Billy Horschel (#15), Max Homa (#16), Cameron Young (#18) and Kevin Kisner ( No. 25).

The international team includes: Hideki Matsuyama (#17), Sungjae Im (#19), Joohyung “Tom” Kim (#22), Corey Conners (#26), Adam Scott (#30), KH Lee (#43), Mito Pereira (#49), Sebastian Munoz (#63), Cam Davis (#66), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (#67), Si Woo Kim (#76) and Taylor Pendrith (#109).

Who doesn’t play?

The international team has been significantly depleted by players defecting to the LIV Golf circuit. The Presidents Cup is sanctioned by the PGA Tour, so LIV golfers who have been suspended by the Tour are not eligible to compete at Quail Hollow.

Australian Cameron Smith, world number three and winner of the Open Championship at St. Andrews, would have been the highest-ranked player on the international team. The Chilean Joaquin Niemann (n°21), the Mexican Abraham Ancer (n°24), the South African Louis Oosthuizen (n°33) and the Australian Marc Leishman (n°61) would also have been sure elements to make part of the team.

India’s Anirban Lahiri (#95) played in the Presidents Cup in 2015 and 2017 and is also ineligible this year.

“Oh, I’ll definitely miss it,” Lahiri said at last week’s LIV Golf event outside of Chicago. “It’s close to my heart. I’ve been part of two teams. Very proud to have been a part of them, and these have been very, very special weeks for me. I will wholeheartedly support the international team next week, and I hope our boys go out there and try hard and play really well. Yeah, I mean, it’s something that’s close to my heart deeply, and it’s unfortunate as the things are happening, but I wish them the best.

Niemann added: “Yes, it’s sad to see, but obviously I’m going to support the international team. I have a lot of friends there and a lot of professional golfers that we share a lot during the year, during the season. Yeah, I’m going to support them, and I hope they beat the Americans.

Will Zalatoris, who earned his first PGA Tour victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship last month, would have made Team USA. He had to withdraw from the exam due to a back injury. Two-time major champion Dustin Johnson (No. 23) would also have been heavily considered for a captain pick.

What to expect

Not only do the Americans have a huge world ranking advantage, but they have also had much more success in the three biggest match play events: the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup.

Scheffler, who earned his third PGA Tour win at the WGC Match-Match Tournament in Austin, Texas, in late March, is 11-2-2 in singles matches over the past two seasons. He memorably beat Spaniard Jon Rahm, who was the world No. 1 player at the time, in the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Kisner won the Austin event in 2019 and was runner-up behind Scheffler last season. He is 22-7-2 in individual match play. Horschel, making his debut in a team event as a professional, is 13-7-2.

The international team has eight President Cup rookies. Only four of his players have played more than seven matches in professional match play: Matsuyama (11-11-3 individually), Conners (6-4), Scott (22-21-2 individually) and Si Woo Kim (5- 9-3 individual).

Diverting the Green Mile

The last three holes of Quail Hollow Club, nicknamed the “Green Mile”, are considered one of the most difficult and spectacular holes in professional golf.

The 16th is the longest par 4 hole on the course and has a large peninsula green with obstacles on three sides. The treacherous par-3 17th has water in front and to the left side of the green. The par-4 18th has a stream running down the left side of the fairway, which appears to be a ball magnet as the pressure mounts. As far as par goes, it’s usually the hardest finishing hole on the PGA Tour.

For the Presidents Cup, these holes will be played as numbers 13, 14 and 15 to ensure they come into play during matches. In the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne, each of the 30 matches reached the 15th hole, but 18 of them were decided before the 18th hole.

“There’s just nowhere to hide in these holes,” Immelman said. “Just step up and hit a good shot. There’s just no room to bail out. Just very demanding. I think it was a brilliant idea to put those three holes in the meat of the back nine . I [can] 100% provide a few of those holes you can win with par, no problem. It’s going to be great stuff.”

As part of the rerouting, regular Quail Hollow holes 14-18 will be moved forward to become holes 11-15 this week. Thus, players will complete the traditional holes like this: 1 to 8, 12 to 18, 10, 11 and 9.

The par-71 course is expected to play over 7,500 yards, so tee length will be paramount.

Another big change at Quail Hollow Club from the Wells Fargo Championship, which is traditionally played in early May, will be the fairways that have been seeded with Bermuda grass. The Bermuda grass greens seem to be firmer and the rough a bit thicker in late summer as well.

Players are not paid for competition

Unlike the Ryder Cup, players do not receive cash for participating in the Presidents Cup. Instead, they each receive $150,000 to distribute to charities of their choosing. Since 1994, the Presidents Cup has generated more than $54.4 million for charity, including $5.4 million in 2019.

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