July 21, 2024

USA Wins the Presidents Cup, Again

The U.S. team claimed its ninth consecutive victory Sunday in the Presidents Cup over an overmatched team of international PGA Tour members, 17.5 to 12.5.

The winner of this year’s event was determined beyond any reasonable doubt—if there ever was any—by Friday afternoon, with the Americans holding an 8-2 advantage. Although the Cup would not be officially clinched until 15.5 points were claimed, the significant talent gap between the two sides insured it was all over but the shouting.

And there was plenty of that. The boisterous pro-USA crowd at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC got louder and more unruly with each session, each point collected, and each domestic beer consumed. Not to be outdone, the players from each side seized every opportunity to preen, prance, and shout the ubiquitous “Let’s Go!!” after seemingly every significant putt made. Family friendly fan favorite Justin Thomas—he of the blurted homophobic slur—put his own spin on things after a putt made by his partner Jordan Spieth early in the week my miming elephantiasis of the testicles. Just what the kids came to see.

Thomas and Spieth did play brilliantly together, going a perfect 4-0 as a team in their fourball and foursomes matches. Spieth also won his singles match 4-and-3 over Australian Cameron Davis to become the sixth player in the 14-event history of the competition to win all five of his matches. Thomas, playing in the first singles match, was beaten 1-up by Si Woo Kim.

Among the bright spots of the week were first-time Presidents Cup participants Max Homa for the United States, and Joo-hyung “Tom” Kim of South Korea, playing for the international side. Homa, the 2013 NCAA Individual National Champion and Twitter favorite, was a perfect 4-0 on the week, partnering with Billy Horschel and Tony Finau in team play, and beating Kim 1-up in their singles match after being 3-down with seven holes to play. Kim, only 20 years old and already a winner on the PGA Tour, played in all five sessions and finished the week with a losing record at 2-3, but having won over the crowd with his enthusiasm even as his team was having its proverbial hat handed to it.

The biggest disappointment of the week for the American team as it enters a Ryder Cup year in 2023 was the play of world #1, reigning Masters Champion, and newly-named PGA Tour Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler, also making his first Presidents Cup appearance, won just a half-point out of his four matches, concluding with a 2-and-1 loss to World Number 63 Sebastian Munoz of Colombia. Scheffler was paired in each of his three team matches with longtime friend Sam Burns, who tied Hideki Matsuyama in singles.

Matsuyama was among the veteran disappointments for the international team, securing only 1.5 points in his five matches, and being drubbed in three team matches, including a 6-and-5 beatdown in the opening foursomes match of the tournament partnered with Adam Scott against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele that set the tone for the event.

Veterans Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel, who were Captain’s pick additions to the U.S. squad, combined for only 1.5 points during the week. Horschel, ranked #15 in the world by the OWGR, was making his professional debut in team events having been passed over throughout his career. His lone point came as Max Homa’s partner in fourball narrowly defeating the Canadian twosome of Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith—ranked 26th and 109th in the world respectively, and the only international players not to contribute a point—1-up. Horschel’s one career team point earned now matches his number of top-10 major championships. But he’s earned more than $33 million on the PGA Tour.

The elephant in the room throughout the event this week was the PGA Tour’s decision to exclude some of the world’s best players who were otherwise eligible from competing because they’ve now joined the LIV Golf tour. Among those that would have been part of the international team were Open Champion and world #3 Cameron Smith of Australia, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (#21), and South African former-Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen (#33). Oosthuizen has stated he doesn’t believe he broke any PGA Tour rules, having resigned his membership before joining LIV, and that as a current Sunshine Tour member he should have been permitted to participate.

The next edition of the Presidents Cup is scheduled to be held at Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2024. The all-time series record now stands at 12-1-1 in favor of the U.S. team.

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