CHARLOTTE, NC – A Presidents Cup that has been in the making for three years is finally here.
After a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this four-day competition between American and international teams kicks off Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The local team, led by PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler, is a heavy favorite, but an inspired international team has bounced back from its underdog status. Veteran members of the away team like Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama seek revenge after the United States’ Sunday comeback at Royal Melbourne in 2019, while exciting rookies like Tom Kim bring energy to the international team.
Thursday’s first round features five Foursomes matches. In that format, also known as alternate shot, two-man teams from each side will face off, with team members alternating hitting the ball until it is holed.
Thursday’s first tee time is at 1:05 pm ET, and games will continue at 12-minute intervals. To prepare you for the first round, here are previews of Thursday’s matches.
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (USA) vs. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (international), 1:05 p.m. ET
The opening salvo for the title holders will come from the dynamic duo of Schauffele and Cantlay, who are 4-0-0 in Foursomes at the 2019 Presidents Cup and 2021 Ryder Cup. USA captain Davis Love III has relied on this power couple, who also demonstrated team experience en route to winning the Zurich Classic in New Orleans this year, to get them started on the right foot.
They face the two most experienced players on the International Team, Scott and Matsuyama. International captain Trevor Immelman hopes his experienced duo will set the tone for his team.
Scott played all four of the team’s games with Matsuyama in 2013 and again in the first Foursomes session in 2015. They are 1-2-0 as a duo in the Foursomes format.
SCHAUFFELE: “Our style of play is very similar. Throw it to the fat part of the greens, try to take advantage of par 5s, under stress. For the most part, we look at shots the same way, and I think that’s why our guys say quartets are so good for us.”
SCOTT: “I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know how many more of these I’ll play, so I’m taking every opportunity, whether it’s good, bad, indifferent or difficult.”
Player Records: Cantlay (3-2-0 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Schauffele (3-2-0 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Scott (16-22-6 overall; 7-9-2 Foursomes); Matsuyama (6-7-4 overall; 1-4-1 Quartets)
Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA) vs. Sungjae Im/Corey Conners (international), 1:17 p.m. ET
There was little doubt that Spieth and Thomas would play together. They grew up playing junior golf together, are good friends, have teamed up in the past and have even been hanging out at Quail Hollow Club this week. They even play the same model of golf ball, which imports in this format. On Tuesday, Spieth and Thomas played a practice round match against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, another obvious US team (see: Match 1) and emerged victorious.
“That’s a brutal pair to lose to because they are big winners,” Schauffele said. “They like to rub it in your face.”
Thomas showed how much he loves this event at Royal Melbourne in 2019, going 3-1-1. Spieth missed the last Presidents Cup, but is undefeated in Foursomes. Im and Conners, a Presidents Cup rookie, will be a new pairing for the International Team. Both are considered accomplished players from tee to green, an important skill in Foursomes.
Player Records: Spieth (8-5-1 overall; 5-0-0 Foursomes); Thomas (6-2-2 overall; 2-0-2 Foursomes); Im (3-1-1; 0-1-1 Quartets); Conners (0-0-0 overall).
Cameron Young/Collin Morikawa (USA) vs. Tom Kim/KH Lee (international), 1:29 p.m. ET
Pairing Morikawa and Young is like using the Create-A-Player option in a video game. You’ve got one of the best irons on TOUR, but with an extra 30 yards off the tee. And Young wins strokes on the greens, an improvement over Morikawa in that aspect of the game as well. It’s a formula we saw succeed last year, when Morikawa went 2-0-0 in Foursomes alongside Dustin Johnson in the Ryder Cup.
Morikawa and Young, a product of nearby Wake Forest, are facing two Presidents Cup rookies, but both won this year. Kim is the spark plug for Team International, a 20-year-old full of energy coming off an exciting summer that culminated in his victory at the Wyndham Championships. He would have ranked sixth in Strokes Earned: Focus last season if he had had enough rounds to qualify and his putter could get hot, as we saw at the Wyndham, where he won 12-plus on the greens.
Player Records: Young (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Collin Morikawa (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Kim (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Quartets); Lee (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Quartets)
Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (USA) vs. Si Woo Kim/Cam Davis (International), 1:41 p.m. ET
It certainly comes as no surprise to see World No. 1 Scheffler paired with his good friend Burns in his first foray into the Presidents Cup. The two have shared a close bond since they were teenagers. and combined for an incredible seven wins on the PGA TOUR last season.
Scheffler is a hitting machine who launched his career after a successful Ryder Cup debut a year ago, while Burns brings an edge on the greens to this duo, especially given that the greens surfaces are his Bermudagrass of choice. .
On the international side sit former PLAYERS champion Kim and rookie Davis. They have their work cut out for them, but both have vowed to play aggressive golf in an attempt to destabilize their most beloved rivals.
SCHEFFLER: “Sam and I play pretty much alike. Close friendship would help. We know each other’s games pretty well, and we know each other’s personalities well.”
DAVIS: “There’s no reason to play it safe or do anything like that. We are making matches. We play aggressive. The golf course is set up for aggressive play. We are very, very excited to get started.”
Player Records: Scheffler (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Burns (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Kim (1-2-0 overall; 0-1-0 Foursomes); Davis (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Quartets)
Tony Finau/Max Homa (USA) vs. Taylor Pendrith/Mito Pereira (international), 1:53 p.m. ET
Game five will see three rookies, two for the International Team, begin their careers in the Presidents Cup. Pereira, from Chile, just completed a rookie campaign that was highlighted by how close he came to winning the PGA Championship a year after his three-win season on the Korn Ferry Tour.
His partner, Pendrith, also came close, competing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July before falling in the final round. The man he played against that day, Finau, won the Rocket Mortgage for his second win in as many weeks and will be the veteran of this match as he also played in the 2021 Ryder Cup (1-2-0).
Meanwhile, Homa might just be the hottest player in this quartet, coming off a big win on Sunday at the Fortinet Championships in Napa, California. He is also one of the most passionate as it made him one of the biggest goals of the 2022 season to make his first US Presidents Cup team..
Player Records: Finau (0-1-3 overall; 0-0-1 Quartets); Home (0-0-0 aggregate); Pendrith (0-0-0 overall); Pereira (0-0-0 aggregate).