Presidents Cup 2011: Its the Internationals turn

 

As a non-European and non-American, the Presidents Cup is the pinnacle of team golf for me as a fan. In the time I’ve been watching golf, the Presidents Cup has been won by the Americans 4 times (2000, 2005, 2007 & 2009) and sharing it once in 2003 in South Africa. The Internationals last won it (The only time they have) in 1998. I think they might add 2011 to that solitary victory.

This year the host is the Royal Melbourne, which was the site of the solitary victory by the Internationals. I also think that Greg Norman has made some great choices with his captain’s pick. In picking Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby, Norman has ensured that there are 5 Australians in his team of twelve and will surely pick up the support of the home crowd. We know how effective a home crowd can be as seen by the brilliance of an average Mike Weir in 2007 in front of the Canadian crowds. He also has the very experienced Ernie Els and the only major champion in the field in Charl Schwartzel.

The Americans in contrast are fielding 6 rookies in Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar. He is also carrying two players with injuries in Stricker and Mahan and elected Woods in a very brave decision. Woods on his day is glorious to watch, but we haven’t seen many of those days in the last two years.

Quickly how it works. The whole tournament is played on a matchplay basis, with 34 points up for grabs. It takes 17.5 to win it. On Thursday there are 6 points up for grabs when the captains split their 12-men teams into pairings to play in six foursome matches. Each pairing alternates shots until the completion of the hole. Players also alternate tee shots over 18 holes.  On Friday another 6 points are up for grabs when six pairings face off against each other with players playing their ball for 18 holes. Each hole is won by the team whose member shoots the lowest score. On Saturday there are 10 points up for grabs with two rounds. The first in the morning is the foursomes round while the second is the four-balls round (In both rounds, two players from each team sit out). On Sunday the last 12 players are faced off in a head to head for the last twelve points. Anyone can usually still win at this point and expect an emotional rollercoaster that comes down to an Adam Scott vs. Tiger Woods final hole!

All Things Jabu will be doing a day-by-day prediction once the pairings are announced:

Thursday Pairings

K.J. Choi-Adam Scott vs. Tiger Woods-Steve Stricker

This was always going to be the big billboard match of the day. Tiger vs. Adam. Steve Williams caddying in a four ball against Tiger just a month since his racist outburst. Getting that out the way, the Steve Stricker – Tiger Woods partnership is probably the best one the Americans have and it was their combination two years ago that ripped through the Internationals.

ATJ – Americans to win this one

Ernie Els-Ryo Ishakawa vs. Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson

The big easy has had a terrible year. He mixes in good with bad, but quite often more of the bad. He has even dropped out of the World top 50. Ryo only arrived on Tuesday and has had one practice round on an exceptionally challenging course. Watson and Simpson are a strong pair with a lot of talent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take this one home.

ATJ – Americans to win this one

Geoff Oglivy-Charl Schwartzel vs. Bill Haas-Nick Watney

It’s the wild card Haas and Watney against the top player at this year’s majors and the crowd favourite. I think this could turn into the match of the day. I hope to see some brilliance from the International pairing and think that could be likely

ATJ – Internationals to win this one

Jason Day-Aaron Baddeley vs. Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar

Jason Day is not ranked No. 1 in the world but he is the best golfer of the 24 playing this weekend. Day has followed the Lee Westwood and Luke Donald example and quietly risen to the top of the golf world without winning a major or a significant golf tournament. Baddeley is a smart golfer as well and the two will have an edge over Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.

ATJ – Internationals to win this one

Retief Goosen-Robert Allenby vs. Phil Mickelson-Jim Furyk

It’s a matchup of the veterans of the Presidents Cup as the Internationals carry 13 appearances between them and the American duo carry 16 appearances between them. The four ball has also won 7 majors between them and while they might be heading towards the end of their careers at the top, this could be a classic. I really can’t separate these guys.

ATJ – Point shared

Kim Kyung-tae- Y.E. Yang vs. Hunter Mahan-David Toms

Hunter Mahan and David Toms will have their hands full with relative unknown Kim Kyung-tae and veteran Y.E. Yang. This match will be another must watch match that many casual golf fans will ignore as the lesser known stars. I think the Asian duo will edge this but only on the last hole.

ATJ – Internationals to win this one

So my prediction for the end of day 1 will leave the Internationals up by 3.5-2.5.

Get ready for some awesome golf!

 To follow the action from work go to the official site of the Presidents Cup.

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