The Presidents Cup doesn’t quite have the tradition of the Ryder Cup, but it is an intriguing event that puts some of the best players in the world into a team format and poses a certain challenge to golf bettors as well.
It is conducted every two years, and will be played this week, starting Thursday, at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, which is the site of the Memorial Tournament, which is a regular stop on the PGA Tour.
Whereas the Ryder Cup pits the United States against the Europeans, this competition features a team of golfers from all the other countries outside Europe. It’s a match play format, with singles and doubles, who will play in both alternate shot and best ball formats. There 34 total points up for grabs; naturally the winning team has to get to 17.5 points.
Thus far, to be honest, it’s been no contest. The United States has gone 7-1-1 in the nine meetings. The International team registered its only win in 1998. The widest margin was in 2000, when Ken Venturi was the captain of the U.S. team. That was a ten-point win, and in the golf odds, the Americans are +3300 at Bookmaker.eu to achieve that kind of margin again.
This year’s captains are Fred Couples of the U.S. team (for the third time) and Nick Price of the Internationals, who has played five times in this event but is debuting as captain.
In the golf betting odds that have been posted at Bookmaker.eu, the United States is priced as the favorite in this event:
To Win Presidents Cup
United States -333
Even though the United States, by all accounts, may have the deeper team, the International team does have a number of winners of major championships including Masters champions Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Angel Cabrera (who has also won the U.S. Open); British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els, a two-time winner of both the U.S. Open and the British Open.
If you looked at the 24 players on both teams, the one who by far has the best history at Muirfield Village is Tiger Woods, who has won five tournaments on the course. No other players have won more than one tournament there. He is also the only player on either team with a career average under 70 at this site. He is priced at +500 in the golf betting odds to be the Top American. Els is the only player from the international team who has won at Muirfield, capturing the Memorial in 2004.
Obviously there are players of all levels of experience playing here, and sometimes that dictates the matchups that each of the captains come up with. For example, Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, will likely be paired with veterans, and reports are that all of them are lined up wanting to play with him. He is listed as a quite respectable +1200 to be Top American in the Bet365 odds.
So who could have the most impact? Well, Adam Scott was one of the top candidates for Player of the Year honors and was right there when it came to competing for the FedEx Cup title. He would love to get back toward the .500 level, as his Presidents Cup record is just 10-13-2. Schwartzel had the second best rate of birdies per round on tour. Els is the most experienced International competitor, by far, having played seven times already in the Presidents Cup. He is barely over the .500 mark for his matches, as he has posted a 17-16-2 record. Els is +900 to be the Top International in the golf betting lines.
The young gun for the Internationals – in other words, the guy who could use a mentor for a partner – is Hideki Matsuyama (+110 to be Top International player), who is 21 years old and apparently unfazed by anything. His Top 10 results in two majors – the U.S. Open and the British Open – indicate very strongly to golf bettors that he belongs. He is, however, the only in this year’s Cup who has never played at Muirfield.
There are other International players who may be perceived to be untested but bring some decent credentials to the table. For instance, Graham DeLaet, a Canadian, played well toward the end of the season, chalking up a second-place finish in The Barclays and third place at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Those were obviously two very important components of the FedEx Cup playoffs. He led the PGA Tour in driving, and that will be critical on this course. Richard Sterne of South Africa went through his PGA Tour schedule with a scoring average of 69.5, which is outstanding.
Marc Leishman, who was one of Price’s captain’s picks, finished tied for fourth place in the Masters. Brendon de Jonge obviously knows how to score, as evidenced by his total of 371 birdies, which ranks him second on the Tour. Jason Day doesn’t live to far from Muirfield, but he hasn’t experienced too much home cooking, falling outside of the top 25 on all five occasions he has competed in the Memorial. Brendan Grace doesn’t mind this format too much, as he made it to the semi-finals of the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Grace is +1200 to be the Top International at Bet365.
For the U.S., Woods, who was just named the Player of the Year despite not winning a major, has played 35 matches in the Presidents Cup (20-14-1 record). But you can’t find a player who has done better than he has on this course. Phil Mickelson has played in every Presidents Cup event, going back to 1994, and he is the only player who can say that.
Matt Kuchar can certainly adjust himself to this match play format; not only is he a former winner of the United States Amateur, he won the Accenture Match Play Championship this year. The guy he beat in that tournament final, Hunter Mahan, is also a member of the U.S. team. And Kuchar likes the course, as he won this year’s Memorial at Muirfield. He could be a value in the golf odds at +1400 to be the top point scorer in this event.
Steve Stricker is very experienced in the Presidents Cup, with an 11-8 record, and he will probably be paired with a youngster because of his demeanor. He won the Memorial on this course two years ago. Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, just won the BMW Championship (part of the FedEx Cup playoffs) and finished strong, with top tens in seven of his last eight events. A lot of people are suggesting a pairing between Wake Forest alums Webb Simpson (last year’s U.S. Open champ) and Bill Haas (son of former pro Jay Haas).
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