Time for change: 2 ways to add drama to the Presidents Cup
While the Ryder Cup is revered as golf's most charged event on the calendar, the team format's younger sibling, the Presidents Cup, has seemingly lacked the same drama since its inception in 1994.
The biannual event featuring the United States versus the rest of the world outside of Europe has been a one-sided affair, with the Americans boasting an absurd 11-1-1 mark in the 13 previous editions.
With the International team neutered by defections to LIV Golf, the Americans seem a safe bet to continue that dominance this week at Quail Hollow in Charlotte. Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, and Marc Leishman are among the top players that captain Trevor Immelman was unable to select due to their move to the Saudi-backed venture.
That leaves the International team heavily overmatched, with the average world golf ranking of the 12-man outfit sitting at 48.9. The American team's average ranking is 11.5, with 10 of the 12 players ahead of the International team's top golfer, Hideki Matsuyama.
The Presidents Cup has long been due for an overhaul, and with the added blow of LIV member bans, now is the time to change the format and turn the event from an afterthought into a compelling tournament.
Here are two ways to make that happen.
Involve the LPGA
The fact that there are virtually no tournaments on the calendar where LPGA and PGA Tours co-exist is a huge missed opportunity for both organizations. The DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour have held multiple co-sanctioned events to great acclaim. This is the easiest and most realistic way to make the Presidents Cup a must-see event.
Americans dominate the men's OWGR, but that isn't the case for the women's Rolex Rankings. Only two women in the top 10 hail from the United States, while the other eight would be eligible to play for the International team. Jin Young Ko, Minjee Lee, Lydia Ko, and Brooke Henderson are among the biggest names in women's golf and currently rank inside the top five.
Placing six players of both sexes on each team would see the International outfit's top six ranked members come from the LPGA Tour before Matsuyama at No. 17.
|1||Jin Young Ko||South Korea||LPGA|
|4||Lydia Ko||New Zealand||LPGA|
|8||Hoo-Joo Kim||South Korea||LPGA|
|19||Sungjae Im||South Korea||PGA|
|22||Joohyung Kim||South Korea||PGA|
|43||KH Lee||South Korea||PGA|
Adding the women to the International squad would bring its average world ranking down from almost 49 to 15, leveling the playing field and bringing previously unseen attention to the tournament.
The American team would remain incredibly strong with the Korda sisters, Lexi Thompson, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang, and Megan Khang rounding out the roster.
The players would play from their respective tees, but two-person teams for both the four-ball and foursomes matches could be mixed or of the same sex. That would bring great strategy to the captaincy as each team would face difficult choices on who to pair together.
The Korda sisters forming a team to square off against Aussies Adam Scott and Minjee Lee would be great theater. A Justin Thomas-Lexi Thompson pairing against the brilliant ball-striking of Koreans Sungjae Im and Jin Young Ko would also be a highly entertaining affair.
Given the strong relationship between the LPGA and PGA, it doesn't seem so far-fetched that the Presidents Cup could take on this format. The LPGA would have to slightly adjust its schedule to accommodate, but that could easily be done with advance notice.
PGA TOUR vs. LIV showdown
While the addition of the LPGA is the practical and realistic option, the spiciest scenario to prop up the Presidents Cup is to make it a showdown between the PGA TOUR and LIV Golf. Given the bad blood and ongoing litigation between members of the two organizations, it's highly unlikely an agreement would be reached, but if one could, the event would be among the most heated in golf history.
Talor Gooch, who has somehow become one of the more polarizing figures in the whole saga, stirred the pot earlier this year following his team's win at the LIV Portland event.
"I haven't played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, but I can't imagine there's a whole helluva lot of difference," Gooch said.
Gooch eventually walked those comments back after being roasted by all corners of the golfing world, but his inclusion would make for great intrigue to the event.
LIV poaching some of the PGA TOUR's biggest names in the past season has become one of the most talked-about stories in sports. The constant sniping between LIV's Greg Norman and the TOUR's Jay Monahan has been front-page fodder for months.
The PGA TOUR still holds the vast majority of top talent, but a quick look at potential 12-man rosters suggests it would likely be a much more competitive contest than the current Presidents Cup setup.
|Scottie Scheffler||Cameron Smith|
|Rory McIlroy||Joaquin Niemann|
|Patrick Cantlay||Dustin Johnson|
|Xander Schauffele||Abraham Ancer|
|Jon Rahm||Brooks Koepka|
|Justin Thomas||Ian Poulter|
|Will Zalatoris||Louis Oosthuizen|
|Collin Morikawa||Talor Gooch|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Viktor Hovland||Patrick Reed|
|Sam Burns||Sergio Garcia|
|Jordan Spieth||Phil Mickelson|
It's not just the commissioners who have been at each other in the press, as numerous players from both sides have gone after one another. So much drama would be added to the event, especially if specific matchups were to be scheduled.
Patrick Reed's rise to almost mythical status in team competitions reached its apex with his epic singles match at the 2016 Ryder Cup against Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman has been one of the most outspoken members of the PGA TOUR against LIV, and a rematch versus Reed would come with even higher stakes.
Justin Thomas is an outrageous 10-2-3 in team play over his career, often pairing with Jordan Spieth to form one of the Americans' most formidable duos. Those two squaring off against the winningest Ryder Cup player of all-time Sergio Garcia and the red-hot Cameron Smith would be a blockbuster tilt.
To add further sizzle, the PGA TOUR could bring in Tiger Woods as the team captain with Norman taking that mantle on the other side. Woods reportedly turned down an offer of over $700 million to join LIV prior to Norman becoming CEO.
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