In less than two month’s time the International Team (sans Europe) will host the Americans for the 2019 President’s Cup. Aside from having the opportunity to enjoy tournament play on TV in December, and seeing some of the best players in the world compete in a team format, there are a few other exciting points to consider for this year’s event.
While the USA looks on paper to be the better of the two teams it may come down to how well their power holds up against experience and design from almost 100 years ago.
This year the President’s Cup will be held at Royal Melbourne GC. The setup for the competition will be a composite setup from two of the best golf courses in the world- Royal Melbourne’s East (Alex Russell) and West (Alister Mackenzie).
In addition to great architecture and history of the club, the Australian Sandbelt lends itself to great golf simply through its subtle undulations and interesting terrain. There are few places in the world that can match this area for great golf. Mackenzie was a master of eye manipulation and risk/reward design and it should be interesting to see how this will affect both style and player decisions.
For those who may not know much about RMGC, you will notice from the outset that the fairways are quite wide. Mackenzie preferred to provide multiple angles to a green complex in order to appeal to players across a range of handicaps. Given the power that all PGA professionals bring to today’s game, one would be forgiven for thinking that they will overpower a course first designed in the early 1900s.
However, don’t expect a special setup for the President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne. It stands on its own merits. Perhaps this is what makes the course so appealing- it’s all right there for the taking. If the Americans choose to bomb away will their length allow them to place the ball in the right spot to score well on the green?
The experience of Els and Aussie team members
The Internationals have the edge in terms of experience at Royal Melbourne. Ernie Els can pass on to the team the lay of the land from his years playing down under and Aussies on the team like Adam Scott, Mark Leishman and Cameron Smith have too many rounds of golf there to ignore. Another pick for the team may include Jason Day!
At RMGC 30-40 feet below the hole may a better spot than 10 feet above it. There are shots which are counter intuitive to what one would think (not cutting doglegs too sharply, etc.) Will the International team listen to experience and how will it translate it to their game?
Intangibles come into play
Experts expect variability in the scoring- with many wins and losses and fewer ties in the scoring format. This may mean blowouts. It also may mean huge swings in momentum. Mistakes will be punished, and it should be interesting to see how each team reacts if there are wild fluctuations in scoring.
The Americans certainly remember well the 2018 Ryder Cup loss and the Euro crowd. Nobody thought the USA would lose going into France! Will the crowd be the difference? Will there be a hangover effect?
The only victory by the Internationals in the President’s Cup took place in 1998. The event was at Royal Melbourne. Both Ernie Els and Tiger Woods played.
While the Americans on paper certainly look to be the stronger of the two sides, this year’s Prescient’s Cup may come down to how well the Internationals respond and absorb their power and aggressiveness. In either case both teams will need to reduce the risk of a big number. That may come down to learning from experience and mastering a Russell and Mackenzie design from nearly 100 years ago.