The ninth edition of the Presidents Cup begins this Thursday at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the US team's only loss at this event.
The only other time the Cup was played at Royal Melbourne was in 1998. The team captains were Jack Nicklaus (USA) and Peter Thomson (International), and the International Team won with the score of 20-and-a-half to 11-and-a-half points.
The Presidents Cup consists of 11 alternate-shot matches, 11 best-ball matches and 12 singles matches for a total of of 34 points. The first team to reach 17-and-a-half points will win, meaning that every match is very important.
The team captains for this year's edition will be Fred Couples (USA) and Greg Norman (International). They were the captains back in 2009, when the event was played at the Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco.
Royal Melbourne features the unique distinction of playing the 18 holes over its two courses (East and West), known as The Composite. That is, 12 holes from the West Course and six from the East course. It's a par-71, 6397 meters-long course.
While it may not be the most difficult course in Australia, it constantly ranks as one of the Top 20 golf courses in the world. It also provides the best opening and closing holes, along with a challenging three-hole stretch which starts with the very tough par-5 fourth hole.
But while logic would dictate that the course could provide some advantage to the International Team (especially the Aussies), Fred Couples and Peter Thomson agree that it will not be a factor in determining who will win this year.
And it shouldn't be. This is a competition that gathers 24 of the best players in the world. The course is one thing pro golfers adjust to on a weekly basis—that is part of the professional golfer's career. But competing for a team on which you are representing your country or geographic region—that is more rare for a golfer.
The pressure and the circumstances around this event are unusual. The course is the least of the players' worries.
And while the US Team has won six of the eight previous editions, they are not the favorites to win this year. Recent play and team cohesiveness issues all point to an advantage for the International Team.
For the International team the players will be: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi, Kyung-tae Kim, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els, Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishikawa, Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby.
The USA team received some good news when they learned that Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan were healthy and ready to play this week. Stricker has been bothered by weakness in his left arm, and Mahan had to retire from the Australian Open with pain behind his right shoulder.
They were both practicing on Monday, and Fred Couples was pleased to see that he will have both players available for playing this week—and will be able to pair Steve Stricker with Tiger Woods.
There is a lot of talk surrounding the highly possible matchup between Tiger Woods and Adam Scott. This because Norman has already proclaimed that Scott is his number one, and Fred Couples has expressed his desire of pairing Woods with him.
And while this might be more of a matchup for the media, because of the whole Tiger Woods-Steve Williams ordeal, it really should be about the actual play of these two.
The interesting thing is that while both captains try to downplay the possible face-off, they keep bringing it up. Steve Williams will not make one single shot. Everything should be about Woods and Scott—not their caddies.
There already have been a lot of shots taken in this event—all of them off the course. Most of them have regarded Tiger Woods and his selection by Fred Couples for the team, and Woods' former caddy's big mouth.
But in the end, it will come down to the play from the players. This event promises to be a good one.
Most of the United States players practiced at the course yesterday, with the notable absences of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. For the International Team, K.J. Choi was the only member not present on the course yesterday.
The teams were set to have their first dinner together tonight and will continue their preparations tomorrow.
The Opening Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 16th, at 4:00 pm (local time). The TV coverage will be as follows:
|Wednesday, November 16||9:00 pm - 2:00 am (GOLF Channel / live coverage)|
|Thursday, November 17||9:00 am - 1:30 pm (GOLF Channel / tape-delayed)|
|7:30 pm - 2:00 am (GOLF Channel / live coverage)|
|Friday, November 18||8:00 am - 12:30 pm (GOLF Channel / tape-delayed)|
|3:00 pm - 2:00 am (GOLF Channel / live coverage)|
|Saturday, November 19||8:00 am - 4:00 pm (NBC / tape-delayed)|
|6:30 pm - 12:30 am (GOLF Channel / live coverage)|
|Sunday, November 20||12:00 - 6:00 pm (NBC / tape-delayed)|