Presidents Cup: All you need to know ahead of the 2019 edition

We answer the key Presidents Cup questions. Arguably.
We answer the key Presidents Cup questions. Arguably.

Not sure what the Presidents Cup is or why you should care? Ben Coley takes you through the key details.

What exactly is the Presidents Cup?

It's a biennial team event between the United States and a team known as 'Internationals', which means anyone not from the United States or Europe.

Like a slightly naff Ryder Cup?

Yes, exactly like a naff Ryder Cup, though we must accept that being European (bump) may colour that opinion.

Fundamentally the Presidents Cup ought to have the potential to become the Ryder Cup's equal, particularly as golf in Asia becomes stronger alongside the traditional powerhouses of South Africa and Australia.

The trouble is, so far it's been very one-sided. The United States have won 10 of the 12 renewals dating back to 1994, losing just one, and drawing another. They've won each of the last seven.

That's not ideal. Why no apostrophe, by the way?

Because it doesn't belong to any president or collection of presidents, although the current one probably thinks he can buy it, like a hotel, silence, or Greenland.

It's a cup of multiple presidents or something. Look, that's really not important.

Trump International Golf Links
A helicopter belonging to the current president

Fine. Sell it to me then.

Well, the 2019 edition does have a lot to offer. Firstly, the captains are Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, the two men who were involved in the most compelling Presidents Cup so far back in 2003.

Els and Woods are, obviously, giants. There's no more popular or respected option to captain the International side, and Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods. He's going to be playing as well as captaining, which from a fans' perspective probably enhances things further.

Then there's the course, Royal Melbourne. It's one of the best in Australia, and it also happens to be the scene of a comprehensive win for the Internationals back in 1998. Things have changed since but the course should be a leveller.

So the United States *aren't* going to win?

I wouldn't go that far. They're heavily odds-on, and on paper vastly superior. At the time of writing there are two members of the International side in the world's top 20, and they rank 18th and 20th.

By comparison, assuming no surprises with the wildcard selections, the entire US side will be ranked inside the world's top 20, including numbers one, three, four, six, seven, nine and 10.

That said, the Internationals have 'home' advantage, with at least three Australians, likely four, in their side. They also have a clutch of improving youngsters and several players who are at the peak of their powers - or close - right now.

Not that the US are out of sorts, but there's an injury concern over Brooks Koepka, and we've not seen Dustin Johnson on a golf course since he finished last of 30 players in the TOUR Championship. Maybe he's been on his jet ski again.

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson hasn't been seen in a while. Makes u think.

Interesting. I'm going to watch it. What's the format?

You really should have asked this earlier.

The key difference between this and the Ryder Cup is that it takes place over four days, rather than three, starting on December 12. Yes, December 12: before you go off to the ballot boxes, ease the pain with some golf.

The other difference is that more points are on offer in this. The Ryder Cup, as you well know, is made up of 28 individual matches, thereby requiring 14.5 points for outright victory or 14 for the holders to retain.

The Presidents Cup has varied between 32, then 34, and more recently 30, which is again the total available this year.

Els has confirmed that the format will be fourballs on Thursday, then foursomes on Friday. That's the safe choice - two balls in play probably suits the Internationals a little more than foursomes, although the latter would have asked a serious early question of the US.

On Saturday, there will be two sessions, each made up of four matches. Whether it's foursomes or fourballs in the morning, it will be the other in the afternoon.

Finally, on Sunday, there will be 12 singles matches. That gives you 30 points, which means the Internationals need to find 15.5 if they're to upset the odds and win this thing.

One minor amendment of note: previously, players were required to play in a minimum of two matches prior to singles, thereby ensuring every individual features in three or more. This year, that minimum requirement is lowered to one, though I suspect it won't matter and that all 24 players will play twice before Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, should the score end 15-15, the Presidents Cup will be officially deemed a tie, with the trophy shared. That follows on from events of 2003, when Els and Woods were locked together after three play-off holes and captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus agreed to call it a draw.

The 2003 Presidents Cup was shared after these two giants decided to share it
The 2003 Presidents Cup was shared after these two giants decided to share it

That was a long answer. Who is playing?

At last, that question can be answered. Ernie Els named his wildcards on Wednesday, Tiger Woods on Thursday, and barring injury the teams are as follows:

Internationals: Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Abraham Ancer, Haotong Li, Cheng-tsung Pan, Cameron Smith, Sungjae Im, Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Joaquin Niemann.

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

No surprises, really, though Ben An is probably entitled to feel a little aggrieved as a member of the world's top 50 who has been playing well for a while now. He flushes it, too, and would've been on my team. It remains unlikely I'm asked to captain, though.

For the United States, the notable absentee is Rickie Fowler, though the fact he hasn't played since the start of September probably offered us a decent clue.

However, stand by for a change: Koepka is currently nursing an injury and rumour has it there's a strong chance he will withdraw. That makes Fowler's appearance in Mexico significant as he probably still needs to play well to establish himself as first reserve, with other options including Kevin Na, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner and Chez Reavie.

Great. Where can I learn more about these players?

I'm glad you asked. Below are profiles of the Internationals, with the US to follow soon.

Ernie Els' team is complete - check out our profiles
Ernie Els' team is complete - check out our profiles by clicking the above image

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