Play at The Presidents Cup kicks off Thursday at Harding Park in San Francisco, and the U.S. Team arrives as a heavy favorite over the International Team. The U.S. boasts the top three players in the world rankings, and four of the top five, including two of this year’s major championship winners. After the U.S victory at last year’s Ryder Cup at Valhalla, and considering how the U.S. Team is playing (and conversely how the International players are performing), one has to wonder if this year’s President’s Cup may end up being a one-sided blowout. But that’s yet to be determined and why they play the matches, as anything can happen.
Tiger has a 13-11-1 record at The Presidents Cup, and he is coming into this year’s matches playing his best golf of the season after a win at he BMW Championship and a solo second at The Tour Championship. It will be interesting to see who he is paired with for the foursome and four-ball matches — perhaps Steve Stricker or Sean O’Hair, or maybe Jim Furyk who has been Tiger’s most frequent partner in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. His Sunday singles match is always highly anticipated — an interesting scenario would be a rematch between Tiger and Y.E. Yang.
AK is a Presidents Cup rookie, but he is no stranger to performing well in team matches on the world stage. His dominating performance at last year’s Ryder Cup — especially his quick dismissal of Sergio Garcia in their Sunday singles match — proved he can rise to the occasion and be a pivotal team member. He partnered effectively with Phil Mickelson at Valhalla, and I wonder if Captain Fred Couples will look to reignite the chemistry between the two at Harding Park.
The Champion Golfer of the Year boasts an 8-4-1 record in three prior Presidents Cup appearances, and is one of the more experienced members of this year’s team. He has been playing solid golf since his win at Turnberry, and he is coming off top 25 finishes at the BMW and Tour Championships. We anticipate Stewart to continue his strong play in this weekend’s matches, improving upon what is already a stellar Presidents Cup record.
Justin is also a veteran Presidents Cupper, and he brings a 6-10-2 record to San Francisco. His accurate driving, precise iron play and solid putting will all be assets to this year’s team. Captain Couples will rely on this former Open Champion’s experience in team competition (4 Presidents Cups and 3 Ryder Cups) and history of performing in the clutch (the putt at Brookline anyone?) to inspire this year’s team to victory. A side note — look for Justin to possibly have the new SQ Machspeed driver in his bag this week.
This year’s U.S. Open champion is making his second Presidents Cup appearance, and looks to improve on his 2-3-0 record at Royal Montreal. His win at Bethpage proved he can beat the world’s best, and has surely increased his confidence coming into this year’s matches. Key to his performance at Harding Park will be who he is partnered with in the foursome and four-ball matches — his long driving, accurate irons and precise putting will surely complement whoever that ends up being.
The Presidents Cup promises to be four days of entertaining team match play golf, and hopefully the matches will be closer than they are currently anticipated to be. But if current predictions hold true — and I think they will — you will see five Nike Golf athletes on the winner’s podium on Sunday evening.