David versus Goliath. The Miracle on Ice. The 2019 Presidents Cup? Maybe.
Historically, the Presidents Cup hasn't provided the sort of drama that golf fans expect from team competitions, especially compared to the Ryder Cup. The United States team has won seven straight Presidents Cups and holds a 10-1-1 record since the event began in 1994. On paper, the upcoming edition shouldn't be any different.
United States roster:
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However, there are reasons to believe a major upset could occur. Here are five factors that could lead to an International victory over the heavily favored Americans in Australia.
With the Presidents Cup returning to the location of the lone International team win, get used to hearing the words "firm and fast."
That's because the sand-based soil in the Melbourne Sandbelt generates firm conditions that are comparable to those experienced on links courses. It makes Royal Melbourne very different from the soft, lush courses that are regularly visited by Americans on the PGA Tour. Even the smallest amount of familiarity with the fairways and greens will help - advantage International team.
While the Americans are talented enough to overcome their lack of experience, and while team captain Tiger Woods will do everything he can to make sure his players are prepared, it may take them a day or two to figure it out.
Here's an example of how firm the greens played at Royal Melbourne in 2011 (50-second mark):
Additionally, don't expect International team captain Ernie Els to set up Royal Melbourne in a way that will help the long-hitting Americans. Els knows the strengths of his players, and he'll cater to them.
While the Americans have dominated the Presidents Cup overall, they've gone just 2-1-1 when the event has been played outside of North America.
The highest-ranked International player, Adam Scott, knows the home crowd can play a key role in deciding the winner - something he wants the Australian fans to keep in mind.
"Last time it was too friendly," Scott said of the 2011 edition in Melbourne, according to Golf Channel's Brentley Romine. "Quite bluntly, we want the home-crowd advantage, and I'll be disappointed if they are cheering enthusiastically for Tiger or anyone on the U.S. team."
Whether the crowd gets boisterous our not, the long travel distance and the drastic time change should help level the playing field for a competition that otherwise looks extremely lopsided. Additionally, most of the International team players were in action at the Australian Open last week, getting acclimated to the other side of the globe while their competition was in the Bahamas.
It's never been a cakewalk for the Americans when they've been forced to travel. Expecting 2019 to be any different would be a mistake.
A quick glance at the Official World Golf Ranking will show seven American team players ranked above the top International competitor.
However, as the old adage goes, that's why they play the game.
The Americans faced an eerily similar situation ahead of the 1998 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, which they lost by nine points in shocking fashion. It was the last time the U.S. team featured an average world ranking better than 13. This year, the squad's average rank is 12.2.
But if the Americans think they can cruise to a victory - and maybe enjoy themselves a little too much in Melbourne - they'll be in trouble. It's tough to imagine the U.S. team not being 100% focused under Woods, but bigger upsets have happened in both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup - each time with the Americans coming up short.
The International team will rely heavily on veterans Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, and Marc Leishman, who should be matched up against the top Americans all week. However, two talented rookies, Sungjae Im and Joaquin Niemann, could be the key to a massive upset.
Both 21-year-olds will be making their Presidents Cup debuts, and they possess the talent to go toe to toe with the majority of the U.S. team's roster. Im and Niemann will play in four - or perhaps in all five - of the sessions and could very well steal a few key points for the International side.
The youngsters should be full of confidence heading into the event after both of them picked up a worldwide victory to earn a selection. That confidence will either be shattered quickly by a tough opening match or be boosted even further with an early win. Regardless, the International team's hopes are in the hands of two future stars who could use the Presidents Cup as their moment to break out on the world stage.
Usually, in a one-sided "rivalry," the team on the losing end is full of players who've felt the agony of defeat over and over again. However, this 12-man International group features seven rookies, which should be a blessing in disguise.
Sure, these rookies are aware of their team's past failures, but they haven't lived through them. They haven't fallen short against a Dustin Johnson or a Rickie Fowler in a team setting. They'll come into this event believing they can win.
The fresh faces should also rejuvenate the veterans on the International team. Knowing they aren't going into battle with the same group that's lost seven straight Presidents Cups will surely be a welcomed change for the likes of Scott and Oosthuizen.