The Presidents Cup has been one of the least-competitive events in sports. The Americans hold an 11-1-1 advantage over the International team, with the US loss occurring almost a quarter century ago.
That’s a winning percentage of 88.4.
Things aren’t looking any better for the International team in this week’s matches at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC, after stalwarts Cameron Smith, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann and Abraham Ancer – each inside the top 25 in the world rankings – became ineligible by joining LIV Golf.
Sure, the Americans also lost star power with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau among five US players ranked inside the top 50 joining LIV.
Still, this looks like a classic mismatch, with the US team averaging 12.08 in the world rankings, compared to 47.91 for the Internationals.
But that won’t stop Hall of Famer Nick Price from watching the Presidents Cup from his southern Martin County home. Price has a vested interest, having served as the International captain three times from 2013-’17.
As much as Price would like to see the International team win this weekend for just the second time, the three-time major champion and former world No. 1 knows this is one of the few times in golf where being close matters.
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“Obviously, what’s happened (with LIV Golf) is a negative to the Presidents Cup,” Price said this week. “But match play is fickle. If it’s a closely contested Presidents Cup, people will forget about who’s not playing.
“That’s the crux – if it’s not closely contested, then there’s going to be all these things written about what has happened and is there a future for the Presidents Cup? Of course, there’s going to be a future for the Presidents Cup. “
Price is confident in his last remark because golf has become a young man’s game. There are plenty of emerging stars such as Tom Kim, PGA Championship near-miss Mito Pereira and former Honda Classic champion Sungjae Im on the International team (though Pereira also is expected to soon join LIV).
Under Price’s captaincy, the International team had two close losses (18 ½-15 ½ in 2013 and 15 ½-14 ½ in ’15) before losing 19-11 in ’17.
The International team almost won in 2019, leading by two going into singles before the Tiger Woods-led US team rallied for a 16-14 victory.
Price knows the International team’s biggest weakness is depth. That’s why he approached former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem almost a decade ago to ask him to lower the number of points available in the matches. The points were dropped from 34 to 30 starting in 2015; Price thinks it needs to be 28.
“The Ryder Cup has gone through four or five permutations,” Price said. “The big thing is the Presidents Cup needs to be more closely contested. People don’t want to see guys patting each other on the back. They want to see guys going toe to toe, especially on Sunday. “
Nick Price has helped Martin County’s golf profile rise
Price is among the reasons Martin County has become a golf mecca for high-end private clubs when he teamed with Tom Fazio to build the course at McArthur Club in Hobe Sound two decades ago. (Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are building a second course at McArthur.)
Like most veteran golfers, Price is not happy with LIV Golf’s impact on professional golf lately. LIV is led by Hall of Famer Greg Norman, who built the Medalist that is situated just south of the McArthur Club.
“I just think the way they’re going about it, it’s clear they’re trying to damage the game as we know it,” Price said. “It’s hard for anybody to compete with people who have that much money and are not looking for a return on their investment.
“I don’t blame some of the players for going. Some guys, I question why they left. It’s a lot of money to play for, especially guys later on in their careers. It can set them up for the rest of their lives. “
And their kids’ lives. And their grandkids’ lives.
Price wishes the LIV golfers would be more transparent with their reasons for leaving the PGA Tour that made them rich and famous. His least-favorite line of him: “Growing the game.”
“If I hear that one more time,” Price said, “I’m going to throw up.”
Can professional golf overcome this not-so Civil War? Price says there will be a lasting effect.
“It’s going to leave a huge scar,” Price said. “Scars heal. This is going to go down in time as a period that’s very difficult for the game, and I think the game was pretty healthy going into this. “