PRESIDENTS CUP: This will be the 12th edition of the Presidents Cup, and one of the main things that has prevented the event from approaching the Ryder Cup in terms of status and fan interest has been the lopsided nature of the results. The International team has prevailed just once in eleven attempts (1998), and the US domination has been comprehensive: the Internationals have won only 6 of the 30 sessions in Cup history that have been held on US soil. Even more incredibly, the American team has led following each of the last 26 sessions– you have to go all the way back to 2005 to find the last time the Internationals were in front at the conclusion of any session.
Certain things suggest that we can expect more of the same in 2017, most notably the world rankings situation: the average world ranking of a member of the International team is 32.5, while the lowest ranked American is Phil Mickelson at 30th. The US also has the advantage in terms of course experience, as eight members of their team have played Liberty National, this week’s venue, in competition, compared to only four on the International side. The Internationals do have Adam Scott, the only player in the field to have won at Liberty National, but the Americans counter with Kevin Chappell, who holds the course record (62).
One reason to suspect that this year’s competition could be closer than most expect is the limited and/or poor march play record of the players that comprise the US team– these dozen players have a combined Presidents Cup singles record of 4-12-4, while the International squad has gone a combined 11-9-2. So even though the US has dominated this event since its inception, the current players on the team have had very little to do with that.
Liberty National may be new to the Presidents Cup but it has hosted The Northern Trust on two occasions, most recently in 2013, so we know what to expect. It’s a par-71 that measures 7,328 yards, so it’s fairly long, and it’s chock full of bunkers, fescue, and coastal marshlands. The greens will be firm and fast but they’re not super-small, with the exception of the 150-yard par-3 10th– the course’s signature hole. Views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty are the course’s defining feature, and the place’s backstory– it was formerly a garbage dump before $250 million was dumped into the property in 2006– makes it unique in the world of golf.
The sequence of holes has been rearranged this week, presumably to maximize the drama, so play will start on what is ordinarily the fifth hole, and all three par-5s will be on the front nine. The 18th hole will be a par-3, which is a little odd, but keep in mind that less than half of the matches will make it that far. The par will be 38-33 and the front nine will measure a whopping 4,232 yards, so the setup is definitely quirky, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Liberty National would seem to have the potential to be a great, dramatic match play course.
Golf is basically a year-round sport these days, but the 2016-17 season officially ended last week and ours certainly ended with a bang, as we hit on Xander Schauffele at 100.0, giving us our second triple-digit winner of the year and our tenth tipped winner overall over the past two seasons. I was running around my house like a madman when Schauffele sunk that birdie putt on the 72nd hole…
The betting will be a bit more unconventional this week, of course, but BETDAQ will have markets for every match as well as various specials throughout the week, so it should be an exciting few days for golf enthusiasts. Here are a few bets that I have my eye on:
RECOMMENDED BETS (odds in parenthesis)
Jordan Spieth top USA scorer (4.9)- Yes, the price is short, but not too short– Spieth will be utilized as much as anyone on the American team, so opportunity won’t be an issue, and he’s brilliant in match play, especially in team settings, compiling a 9-3-2 career team record (Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup combined). He’s paired with match play dynamo Patrick Reed on Day 1 and they’re facing Si Woo Kim and Emiliano Grillo, so he has an excellent chance to get off to a fast start. And don’t forget, Spieth has been on fire lately, finishing runner-up in the first two Playoff events and tying for 7th in each of the last two. I think he’s ready for a big week.
Charl Schwartzel top International scorer (10.0)- Schwartzel has been solid lately, finding the top-30 in four of his past five starts, and he has extensive match play experience, going 6-7-1 in three previous Presidents Cup appearances (a respectable record for an International player) and 17-13-1 over the course of his career in match play singles. Plus, Schwartzel played Liberty National in the 2013 Northern Trust and fared quite well, finishing just a shot out of a playoff and tying for third. I think he’s a nice value here at a price like 10.0.
Brooks Koepka top debutante (4.8)- There are ten players making their first Presidents Cup appearance, and of course the marquee name out of this group is freshly-crowned FedEx Cup champ Justin Thomas, who can currently be had at 3.9. But don’t sleep on Koepka, who has been playing some great golf himself and is priced a bit more attractively than Thomas. Koepka has been on a tear since winning the U.S. Open, finding the top-20 in six of his past seven starts, including a 6th-place showing at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s paired with fellow Florida State alum Daniel Berger on Thursday, and they’ll look to get it done against South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace. Something tells me Koepka will be a tough out this week.