Presidents Cup predictions: Americans look too strong

Ian Wilkerson
Spotlight
Davis Love III is the ninth different captain to lead the United States in the Presidents Cup
Davis Love III is the ninth different captain to lead the United States in the Presidents Cup

It is all about team golf in the USA this week as all eyes will be on whether Davis Love’s charges can keep their hands on the Presidents Cup as they take on Trevor Immelman’s Internationals over four days at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

There is no doubt that both teams have been affected by the decision not to allow players who have aligned themselves to the new LIV Golf Tour to play. The move has probably hit Immelman hardest, particularly the recent defection of Open champion Cameron Smith.

But with foursome, fourball and singles matches to be negotiated, the South African will be hoping his team show a similar fighting spirit to the one they mustered in Melbourne two years ago, when they were narrowly defeated by 16-14.

However, they have won just one of the 13 meetings since the competition was formed and look to be up against it again against a star-studded American line-up.

Big task for Internationals to keep it close

There have been occasions in this competition’s history where it has been a bit of a mismatch, and there is little doubt that while Love cannot call upon Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, the Internationals have had to piece together a squad, following the defection of prominent South Africans and Australians.

Most of the big hitters for America are still available, which should point to a comfortable victory at the course which has hosted the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship for all but two years since 2003.

Six of the home side’s seven victories have been by at least three points, but there may not be the motivation to rub it in.

Once trophies have been secured, the intensity of these clashes can suddenly deflate so it may not pay to bank on a huge victory, but one with a margin between four and six points looks perfectly possible.

Thomas can build on fine Quail Hollow memories

Justin Thomas has a Presidents Cup win-loss-tie record of 6-2-2
Justin Thomas has a Presidents Cup win-loss-tie record of 6-2-2

The team top-pointscorer markets are always interesting in Presidents Cup clashes and it would be a big surprise if Justin Thomas did not have a big role to play for the Americans.

Thomas won the 2017 US PGA Championship at the Charlotte track, but he has demonstrated himself to be a fearsome matchplay competitor.

It would be a big surprise if he did not become one of Love’s go-to guys this week and that just gives him the edge in the top American market.

Scottie Scheffler was excellent on his Ryder Cup debut last year, when he beat Jon Rahm in the singles before his 2022 to remember and Max Homa, a course winner, may also be confident following his victory in last week’s Fortinet Championship.

Im looks Immelman’s most dangerous weapon

It may not take a lot of points to be the highest scorer among the International team and with Immelman having named four South Korean players in his 12-man squad, it could be that Sungjae Im is the most prominent among them.

Im collected 3.5 points in the defeat against America three years ago and he heads into battle in fine form.

He was second in both the 3M Open and Wyndham Championship in the closing stages of the PGA Tour campaign and proved he could do it among the game’s elite when he was the second-best performer at the Tour Championship.

Expect him to go quietly about his business but still make a great impression.

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