The 12th stag­ing of the Pres­i­dents Cup will not only be an­other vic­tory for the Stars & Stripes but also a high pro­file for the cur­rent Com­man­der in Chief.

Mike Wil­son looks ahead to the 12th stag­ing of the Pres­i­dents Cup, which will take place at the Lib­erty Na­tional GC in New Jer­sey and pre­dicts not only an­other vic­tory for the Stars & Stripes but also a high pro­file for the cur­rent Com­man­der in Chief.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Mike Wil­son

Staged bi­en­ni­ally in non-Ry­der Cup years, the Pres­i­dents Cup be­tween the USA and an In­ter­na­tional team is said by some in­sid­ers to be pre­ferred by some of the PGA Tour play­ers to the more tra­di­tional event against Europe. Per­haps this is be­cause con­trary to re­ceived wis­dom, PGA Tour play­ers en­joy the re­mu­ner­a­tion they so clum­sily - and un­suc­cess­fully - de­manded from the Ry­der Cup. Or be­cause the USA en­joys the sort of dom­i­na­tion it no longer has to Europe.

Con­ceived and cre­ated by the PGA Tour, the bi­en­nial Pres­i­dents Cup has handed the fin­ger­prints of the Big-3 - Jack Nick­laus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player all over it. The tri­umvi­rate cap­tained the two teams on a com­bined eight oc­ca­sions and staged at Muir­field Vil­lage, owned by the Golden Bear and his epony­mous golf club at In­cheon, South Korea on suc­ces­sive oc­ca­sions, 2013 and 2015.

Two great Aus­tralians, Peter Thom­son and Greg Nor­man skip­pered the In­ter­na­tional Team five times be­tween them. Zim­bab­wean Nick Price cap­tain for the third suc­ces­sive time this year, go­ing up against US cap­tain Steve Stricker.

His­tor­i­cally, the In­ter­na­tional Team, the restof-the-world mi­nus Europe has only man­aged to lay a blow on their Amer­i­can cousins once with a con­vinc­ing 20½–11½ vic­tory at Royal Mel­bourne in 1998 - to where the event re­turns in 2019 - that team com­pris­ing this year’s non­play­ing cap­tain Price, Joe Ozaki, Craig Parry, Vi­jay Singh and Greg Nor­man.

The In­ter­na­tional Team also se­cured a tie against the USA over the fear­some Fan­court Links in South Africa in 2003. Oth­er­wise, it’s been nine Amer­i­can vic­to­ries in 11 meet­ings, and it’s hard to make a case for any re­ver­sal in for­tunes at the end of the month.

Like the Ry­der Cup, the Pres­i­dents Cup mim­ics in al­most ev­ery way, strength in-depth is vi­tal, es­pe­cially when it comes down to the Sun­day sin­gles. And, al­though the top three in the In­ter­na­tional Team, Hideki Mat­suyama and Ja­son Day are in the top 10 on the OWGR, with Adam Scott inside the top 20, the top two Amer­i­cans John­son and Spi­eth and six in to­tal in the top 15 of the OWGR with eight more in the top 30.

And, whilst the three South African In­ter­na­tional Team prob­a­ble - Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and Grace are all re­doubtable per­form­ers, es­pe­cially in match play, Aus­tralian Marc Leish­man, Korean Si Woo Kim, South Amer­i­cans Jhonat­tan Ve­gas (Venezuela) and Emil­iano Grillo (Argentina) are nei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally or col­lec­tively likely to strike fear into Amer­i­can hearts. Es­pe­cially on home soil with huge jin­go­is­tic gal­leries fired up for what they will see in the US ver­sus the rest-of-the-world.

And that’s the small mat­ter of two cap­tain’s picks.

Stricker has at his dis­posal the man with

the best Pres­i­dents Cup record of all time; Phil Mick­el­son has made the most ap­pear­ances, the most over­all points as well as the best re­turn in four­somes and four­balls.

Stricker then has one to pick from Pa­trick Reed, Brian Har­man, Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel, Ryan Moore, Bubba Wat­son, JB Holmes, Webb Simp­son et al., a ver­i­ta­ble em­bar­rass­ment of riches.

For his part, In­ter­na­tional skip­per Price can add a Korean spine to his team with Byeong Hun An, (#65) and Je­unghuan Wang (#72). Or cre­ate a Ja­panese heart by adding Hideto Tani­hara (#52) and Yuta Ikeda (#68) to Shooin Mat­suyama, but, be­yond that, his op­tions are limited.

Al­ter­na­tively, he may opt for ex­pe­ri­enced Cana­dian Adam Had­win and/or the ever-steady Gra­ham DeLaet (or even Austin Con­nelly), or look to Asia for the fear­less young Chi­nese star Li Hao­tong fol­low­ing his third place in the Open Cham­pi­onship. Adding Danny Lee to a strong Aus­tralian pres­ence, take a chance of Anir­ban Lahiri or go for outright ex­pe­ri­ence with Thongchai Jaidee.

And, as if the odds were not high enough against Nick Price’s 12-man team, the venue, Lib­erty Na­tional GC in New Jer­sey is nailed-on cer­tain to suit and be set up for the USA. That’s the name of the game in Ry­der Cup, and the Pres­i­dents Cup is no dif­fer­ent.

Both the front-nine of this dra­matic ur­ban course, which sits in the shadow of the Statue of Lib­erty and the tow­er­ing Man­hat­tan sky­line have three Par-4 holes close on 500-yards – the fourth is a Par5 mea­sur­ing 611 yards, favour­ing the big-hit­ters of the PGA Tour. And there is both wa­ter and sand aplenty to pun­ish any­thing re­motely off the line.

De­signed by for­mer PGA Tour star Tom Kite and renowned golf course ar­chi­tect Bob Cupp, at 7,353 yards and Par-71, Lib­erty Na­tional is a golf course on steroids and more than enough to strike fear into the hearts of a tal­ented - but limited - In­ter­na­tional Team.

Opened for play in 2006 at a re­ported cost of US$250m, Lib­erty Na­tional has al­ready hosted the Bar­clays, the-then pre-FedEx Cup event in 2009 and again in 2013, won by Heath Slocum and Adam Scott re­spec­tively. So, hon­ours are even on that if no other score.

Then there is the Pres­i­den­tial ques­tion; at each event, whether in the USA or else­where, there is a tra­di­tion of a sit­ting pres­i­dent af­fil­i­ated with the event as a quasi-am­bas­sador, Barack Obama - a huge golf fan - twice in 2009 and 2013. Park Geun-hye, Pres­i­dent of South Korea when the event was staged at the Jack Nick­laus Golf Club in In­cheon, where no doubt, know­ing the modus operandi of re­cently re­tired PGA TOUR com­mis­sioner Tim Finchem, the foun­da­tion stones of this year’s con­tro­ver­sial CJ Cup at Nine Bridges would have been laid.

2017, close to New York City and his Trump Tow­ers HQ in the Big Ap­ple, the 12th Pres­i­dents Cup will form the per­fect stage for the 45th Pres­i­dent of the USA, Don­ald J Trump.

Never to miss an op­por­tu­nity for self-pro­mo­tion and po­lit­i­cal point-scor­ing, Trump, him­self a keen golfer and owner of a large port­fo­lio of golf re­sorts in­clud­ing nearby Bed­min­ster and the Blue Mon­ster at Do­ral will be all over the event like a rash. No doubt us­ing it to his po­lit­i­cal gain whilst wheeling-and­deal­ing to have the 2029 Pres­i­dents Cup, the next avail­able on US soil af­ter Quail Hol­low in 2021 and TPC Hard­ing Park in 2025.

But then the 2023 over­seas venue has yet to be an­nounced, what chance is the Trump Moscow Re­sort ru­moured step­ping for­ward to host the event, with his close friend Vladimir Putin as the Pres­i­den­tial am­bas­sador?

Surely not!

2017 Pres­i­dents Cup Cap­tains - Steve Stricker (Cen­ter) and Nick Price (Far Right) will lead the US and In­ter­na­tional Team re­spec­tively

Tiger Woods hits his sec­ond shot on the 12th dur­ing the fi­nal round of The Bar­clays at Lib­erty

Na­tional Golf Club in 2013

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