Pack the cooler with Fosters, pick up the bloomin’ onion from Outback, and twist the cap off the Vegemite—it’s time for the Presidents Cup! Team USA and the Internationals kick off the 13th edition of this biennial event tonight. Yes, tonight. Wednesday. Don’t miss it.
Started in 1994 by the PGA Tour, the Presidents Cup has established a very “meh” reputation over the years. Everyone enjoys team match play, but the event just doesn’t have the juice of the Ryder Cup (yet). The United States holds a commanding 10-1-1 record and hasn’t lost since 1998.
The two sides will play fourball matches on Thursday (Australia time), foursomes on Friday, one round of each format on Saturday, and singles on Sunday.
In case you didn’t catch our ultra-hip references in the intro, the action is in Australia this week! Royal Melbourne Golf Club has hosted two previous Presidents Cups—one in 2011 (which the Americans won handily), and the other in 1998 (in which the Internationals earned their first and only victory). The teams will play Royal Melbourne’s Composite Course, which features 12 holes from the West Course and six from the East.
The course is going to play very firm this weekend. While short by modern standards, it will force players to think their way around and find advantageous positions in the wide fairways. For a deeper understanding of the challenges the players will face at Royal Melbourne, we recommend John Huggan’s piece for Golf Digest. Huggan talks with Australian architect Michael Clayton, gives a brief history of Royal Melbourne, and explains the strategic character of the golf course.
Team USA – (Playing) Captain Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, and Gary Woodland
Team International – Captain Ernie Els, Ben An, Abraham Ancer, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman, Haotong Li, Hideki Matsuyama, Joaquín Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, C.T. Pan, Adam Scott, Cameron Smith
First-round fourball matches:
Match No. 1: Leishman/Niemann vs. Thomas/Woods
Match No. 2: Hadwin/Im vs. Schauffele/Cantlay
Match No. 3: Scott/An vs. DeChambeau/Finau
Match No. 4: Matsuyama/Pan vs. Simpson/Reed
Match No. 5: Ancer/Oosthuizen vs. Johnson/Woodland
Sitting out on Thursday: Li and Smith (Internationals); Fowler and Kuchar (USA)
While the event starts on Thursday, Americans will be watching the previous night. TV times are Eastern.
Wednesday, Dec. 11: 5:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Thursday, Dec. 12: 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday, Dec. 13: 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14: 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.
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Final Stage of Q-School
The Presidents Cup may be the highest profile event this weekend, but it isn’t the most consequential one. More than 150 players are in Orlando for Final Stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School this week. Often this event literally determines whether certain players choose to continue playing professional golf. Tee Times
Winner: Full status in 2020
2nd through 10th (and ties): Exempt into first 12 events of 2020
11th through 40th (and ties): Exempt into first 8 events of 2020
Brandel Chamblee was in rare form as he held Patrick Reed’s feet to the fire for his actions at the Hero World Challenge. Full video
On Monday, a practice-round video of Justin Thomas poking fun at Reed’s M.O. made the rounds on social media. In a green-side bunker, JT called out, “P-Reed, is this right?” and proceed to sweep sand from behind his ball. It’s hard to get angry about what Thomas clearly intended as a goof, but it’s telling that he and his teammates are capable of being so lighthearted about it all.
The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America
Chambers Bay (University Place, Washington)
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At Chambers Bay, the RTJ II team transformed a degraded quarry into a grand arena for both municipal and championship golf. Cleverly, chief design officer Bruce Charlton and then-associate Jay Blasi retained some artifacts of the site’s industrial past, including the immense concrete dividers along the 18th fairway. The course itself mirrors this brutalism: its man-made landforms are angular and abrupt rather than soft and rolling. It’s a unique and striking aesthetic.
Insider tip: Before playing, take a stroll on the public path that runs along the rim of the bluff above the golf course. It’s a lovely walk, and a fine preview of the golf to come. -Garrett Morrison
OH MY GOD WE’RE HAVING A PHOTOGRAPHY… SALE
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Shotgun Start: Bryson’s waist gain, Royal Melbourne, the Shark Shootout, and pick-up basketball players
Fox Sports Shane Bacon fills in for usual co-host Brendan Porath, who is out on paternity leave. The format goes off the rails quickly, as Shane and Andy go down a caddying rabbit hole. The two then talk the design of Royal Melbourne, and Shane shares his impressions of the course from his round a few years back. After Shane nails the trivia question, Andy presents a deep dive into the 1998 President’s Cup, centering on none other than International captain’s pick Greg Turner. Shane and Andy run through news, which includes the continued fallout from the Reed cheating scandal and Bryson’s expanding waist. The two then discuss what they’d like to see change at the Presidents Cup from a format and identity standpoint, and close with some pickup basketball talk. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.