The site: Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The date: December, 1998.
That was the last time the International team topped the Americans in the President’s Cup. In the nine times since the competition’s inception, the American squad has won seven times. In 2003, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to tie the event, but since the Americans already held the Cup, it stayed on United States soil.
So what is it that will guarantee the same result this year?
No doubt about it, the International squad looks good this year, featuring Masters champion Adam Scott, newcomers like Graham DeLaet and Marc Leishman, and veteran Ernie Els, who has played in seven President’s Cups in his career. Still, they just don’t stack up to the American roster.
Led by Fred Couples, the Americans not only have home-field advantage at Muirfield Village, but they’re just stacked from top to bottom. It’s not even about the fact that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker have been such a big part of past President’s Cup triumphs, but the team is so good that they had to leave players like Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson on the bench. Some people question the inclusion of rookie Jordan Spieth in favor of those veterans, specifically Furyk, but Spieth’s courageous shot-making will play right into the match-play format of the event.
The pairings in four-ball and alternate shot are endless. Mickelson could just as easily play with Keegan Bradley as Spieth or Webb Simpson and dominate. Woods and Stricker have become a powerful pairing in previous international competitions, but even if that partnership is broken up, they both bring a formidable quality to any match. A team of Stricker and Spieth would see the oldest player in the competition with the youngest; veteran savvy with youthful fire.
International competitions are always some of the most exciting weeks in golf, but don’t be surprised if this one lacks some drama on Sunday afternoon.