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The Complete Guide to the Presidents Cup

For International golfers, it just doesn’t get any bigger or any better than the Presidents Cup. When you take the top 12 golfers in the United States and match them up with 12 of the best players from around the globe, you see fireworks. You see electricity in the air.

If you want to be absolutely thrilled watching team golf competition at its finest, tune into the Presidents Cup.

This page is designed to guide you through this incredible golf tournament from start to finish. From when and where it is played to the format it is played in, we got you covered. Looking for some history of the event? We have that too!

Get nice and comfy as our golf experts take you on a journey through the Presidents Cup! To get started, we must explain what the event really is.

Presidents Cup- What and When Is It?

This isn’t just any old golf match between two separate teams—not even close.

This is a competition of the highest standards between the 12 best American golfers

and the 12 best International golfers.

Not just the best golfers from Australia or South Africa.

Not just South American and Asian players. Throw the Canadian guys in the mix, too. We get only the most premier golfers from all of the continents, excluding Europe, to join forces and form a “super team”.

Those 12 men are pitted against the 12 best players that the United States has to offer. Only the best of the best get an opportunity to compete in the Presidents Cup.

The first Presidents Cup was in 1994 and has taken place in the fall every other year since. The tragedies of 9/11 in 2001 forced the Presidents Cup to be postponed until the next year, which is why it now takes place during even-numbered years. The waiting time in between each Presidents Cup adds to the momentum buildup each year.

Now that you know who gets to play on the teams, let’s take look at how the players are chosen for each squad.

The Teams – Selection Process

This isn’t the All-Star Game in the NBA or the MLB Mid-Summer Classic. Don’t get us wrong, we love the NBA and MLB All-Star games, but having the fans and players vote on who represents each side might not be the greatest formula for getting the best players.

The ones who deserve to be on the teams are the guys that earned their right

on the team by playing the best golf.

The President’s Cup Captains are chosen by a select group of individuals. This group of officials base their nominations on men that have not only competed in past Presidents Cups, but are also appreciated throughout the golfing community.

Once a Captain is selected, he will then designate three or four assistant captains. Together, the captains will be in charge of “the Captains Picks”, as well as organizing the teams for the matches.

How the players make the team—now that’s a different process.

Let’s take a closer peek.

Golf IconUnited States Team

The qualification process has been changed and amended over the years. The United States has always used a running points list to rank the golfers. For the 2017 Presidents Cup, the following was the exact criteria for making the team.

They took all the FedEx Cup points accumulated since the 2015 Playoffs until September 4th, 2017. The points gained in 2017 were worth double the points gained during 2015-2016. This simply acknowledges that performance in tournaments leading up to the Presidents Cup holds more weight towards making the team.

The United States wants players competing in the President’s cup that are playing well at the time of the event. Winning tournaments and playing great the year before is fantastic.

However, it is the players who are peaking and playing the best leading into the Presidents Cup that have the best shot at making the team.

The top 10 players on this list as of September 4th, 2017 were automatically placed on the team.

Golf IconInternational Team

Just like on the United States side, the International team has played around with different scoring systems. They have tried to find the best formula to get the 12 best players available heading into the tournament. For the 2017 Presidents Cup, Captain Nick Price made it very straightforward by employing the following as the criteria for qualifying for the International squad.

The top 10 international players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of September 4th, 2017 would be automatically placed on the team. Obviously, players from European countries are not eligible for the Presidents Cup.

That means Price’s player pool was the top 10 players from anywhere outside of the United States or Europe.

While several of the games brightest stars hail from the United States of America and Europe, there is an abundance of amazingly talented golfers from other regions of the world.

To show you an example, let’s look at the makeup of the 2017 International squad.

The 12 men consisted of:

From# of Players
Australia3
South Africa3
Argentina1
Canada1
India1
Japan1
South Korea1
Venezuela1

As you can see, the International team certainly lives up to its name of being “International.” The fact that the players speak different languages and aren’t as closely bonded has been thrown around as reasons why the International Team hasn’t had more success over the years.

The lack of success we are referring to is evident in the table shown in the “Presidents Cup Results” section further down on this page.

Golf IconCaptains Picks

If you read the selection processes for both teams closely, you would have realized the points/ranking system only accounts for 10 men on each squad. We know each roster is comprised of 12 golfers, so where do the other two come from?

They are the Captain’s Picks. Just a few days after the 10-man teams are set, each captain gets to choose two additional members to complete their rosters. These “picks” are exactly that.

The Captain’s Picks generally come from those who just barely missed out on qualifying

for one of the 10-automatic spots, but not always.

In fact, in the 2017 President Cup, both Captain Stricker and Captain Price did the exact same thing. They chose the player sitting in the 11th spot, essentially the first guy out. For their second pick, they both went a little further down the lists to the man occupying the 16th spot.

On the American side, that man was Phil Mickelson. For the International team, India’s Anirban Lahiri received the nod from Captain Price.

You should now have a pretty solid idea of how the United States and the International teams take shape. You must be wondering what type of golf is played during the event.

Presidents Cup Format

The Presidents Cup is played over four days. After having a total of 32 points up for grabs for the first four Presidents Cups, 34 points became the new standard. In 2015, they implemented a new format consisting of 30 total points.

The arrangement of matches has been altered over the years, so let’s look at the format utilized during the 2017 Cup.

DayFormat# of Matches
ThursdayFoursomes5
FridayFour-ball5
Saturday MorningFoursomes4
Saturday AfternoonFour-ball4
SundaySingles12

For those of you who need refreshers or are unfamiliar with the terms foursomes and four-ball:

Golf IconFoursomes

Alternate shot format. One player tees off on the odd-numbered holes while his teammate hits first on the even-numbered holes. Each member of the two-man team takes turn hitting shots until the hole is completed.

Regardless of which player finishes the hole, the teeing order remains the same.

Whichever team completes the hole in the least number of strokes “wins the hole”. If a hole is tied or “halved”, the golfers just proceed to the next hole. There are no carry-overs like you may have in your local skins game with your buddies.

Golf IconFour-ball

Each player will play his own ball. The lowest score from each team is recorded. Whichever team completes the hole in the least number of strokes “wins the hole”. Again, there are no carry-overs.

For example, let’s say Jimmy and Jacob are on a team playing against Dave and Derek. Let’s say Jimmy makes a 6 and Jacob makes a 4. Their team records a 4. Let’s say Dave and Derek each make a 5. They record a 5, and therefore, lose the hole.

The total number of combined strokes is irrelevant. Only the lowest of the two scores from each team is counted.

Now that you have a grasp on who makes the team and what kind of format the Presidents Cup is played under, we figured diving into the results and the record books would be a nice transition.

Presidents Cup Results

In order to make it nice and easy to read, we organized the Presidents Cup Results in a chronological table below.

YearLocationWinning TeamScore
1994Robert Trent Jones GC Gainesville, VirginiaUSA20-12
1996Robert Trent Jones GC Gainesville, VirginiaUSA16.5-15.5
1989Royal Melbourne GC Melbourne, AustraliaInternational20.5-11.5
2000Liberty National GC Jersey City, NJUSA21.5-10.5
2003Fancourt Hotel and CC George, South AfricaTIED17-17
2005Robert Trent Jones GC Gainesville, VirginiaUSA18.5-15.5
2007Royal Montreal GC Montreal, CanadaUSA19.5-14.5
2009Harding Park GC San Francisco, CAUSA19.5-14.5
2011Royal Melbourne GC Melbourne, AustraliaUSA19-15
2013Muirfield Village Dublin, OHUSA18.5-15.5
2015Jack Nicklaus GC Incheon, South KoreaUSA15.5-14.5
2017Liberty National GC Jersey City, NJUSA19-11

Clearly, the International Team has found themselves on the losing side way too often for their liking. Amending the qualifying process in attempts to have the players playing the best golf at the right time is what they have geared towards in recent years.

The amount of young, brash talent in the United States is going to make life tough on future International squads to make a dent in the overall Cup results.

Speaking of overall results, let’s pivot right into the overall records held in President Cup competition.

Presidents Cup Records

Since 1994, we have seen a plethora of golfing legends take part in the President Cup festivities. Let’s take a glance at some of the more notable records.

Most Appearances (as a player)

USA TeamInternational Team
Phil Mickelson12Ernie Els8
Tiger Woods8Adam Scott8
Jim Furyk8Vijay Singh8
Davis Love III6Robert Allenby6
Steve Stricker5Retief Goosen6
Justin Leonard5Stuart Appleby5
7 Players tied4Nick Price5
Mike Weir5

Matches Played

USA TeamInternational Team
Phil Mickelson55Ernie Els40
Tiger Woods40Vijay Singh40
Jim Furyk33Adam Scott39
Davis Love III28Retief Goosen29
Steve Stricker24Robert Allenby28

Most Used Pairings

USA TeamInternational Team
Fred Couples/ Davis Love III8Branden Grace/ Louis Oosthuizen7
Tom Lehman/ Phil Mickelson5Ernie Els/ Vijay Singh6
Chris DiMarco/ Phil Mickelson5Ernie Els/ Adam Scott6
Tiger Woods/ Charles Howell III5Retief Goosen/ Adam Scott6
Tiger Woods/ Jim Furyk5Steve Elkington/ Vijay Singh5
Tiger Woods/ Steve Stricker5Steve Elkington/ Greg Norman5
Patrick Reed/ Jordan Spieth5Stuart Appleby/ Vijay Singh5
Adam Scott/ Hideki Matsuyama5

Most Points Won

USA TeamInternational Team
Phil Mickelson32.5Ernie Els21
Tiger Woods24.5Vijay Singh20.5
Jim Furyk21.5Adam Scott16.5
Davis Love III18Retief Goosen15.5
Steve Stricker14Mike Weir14

The Takeaway

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. That wraps up our guide to the Presidents Cup. The 12 best American golfers face off against the 12 best International players in an exhilarating 4 days of nonstop action-packed golf.

This prestigious event only takes place every other year, so you know the competitors and fans are locked and loaded once the Presidents Cup arrives every other fall season.

The event can be confusing to many, which is why we created this extensive guide covering all the bases on the Presidents Cup diamond.

We included a description of how players qualify for the team and told you all about the types of formats used throughout the competition. Of course, we couldn’t leave out an organized table showing you the results of past Cups.

Everybody is interested in records, so we didn’t leave you hanging on that front either.

The Presidents Cup event is about as good as it gets when it comes to watching golf. Whether you are fortunate enough to attend in-person or are just watching it from home with a cold beverage in hand like us, you will not be disappointed.

A gathering of 24 of the finest golfers on the entire planet thrown
into a ring of competitive matches—now that’s what I call entertainment!

Don’t miss out on the any of the action. When you need to reference a statistic or a piece of detailed information, let this be your go-to guide!