History of the Presidents Cup

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The upcoming Presidents' Cup is not too far away so here is a quick look at the history of the team competition.

Golfer Phil Mickelson celebrates a good shot.

The Presidents Cup is a biennial match-play golfing competition between the USA and an International team representing players from the rest of the world with the exception of Europeans, who instead compete against the US in the Ryder Cup.

A four-day competition which features two 12-man squads, the Presidents Cup has tended to mimic much of the Ryder Cup format but its history is far more recent, as the first Ryder Cup took place in 1927 while the Presidents Cup was first staged in 1994.

As for its name, the 38th US president, Gerald Ford, was named as honorary chairman for the inaugural competition and that tradition has continued for the 12 subsequent editions of the tournament, with former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison the latest political figure to hold that honour in 2019.

US Dominate

The 1994 Presidents Cup took place at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, with Hale Irwin captaining the American team and Australia’s David Graham leading the Internationals – Irwin was the only playing captain in the history of the event before Tiger Woods did likewise in 2019.

Like the Ryder Cup, the 1994 tournament took place over three days, but with five fourball matches and five foursomes matches being played on Friday and then again with different pairings on Saturday, meaning that 20 points were up for grabs before all 12 players were sent out for Sunday singles.

Irwin’s US team led 12-8 following the first two days of play and won 8-4 in singles to win the first Presidents Cup 20-12 on home soil, Davis Love III playing a starring role as he claimed 4.5 points from five matches.

The 1996 edition was much closer, as Arnold Palmer led the American side to a 16.5-15.5 triumph, again at RTJ Golf Club, but defeated Internationals captain Peter Thomson would have his revenge two years later when the tournament headed to his native Australia.

International Fightback

Jack Nicklaus’s US team featured Tiger Woods and three other members of the world’s top four but, at famous Royal Melbourne, they had no answer for Thomson’s Internationals, and in particular Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama, who was a perfect five-from-five in a 20.5-11.5 rout.

Subsequent editions have not been as kind on the Internationals as the US have routinely flexed their muscles, and after a 17-17 tie in South Africa in 2003, the last eight editions have gone the way of the Americans.

Globetrotting Major-winning Internationals such as Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama have ensured that the Presidents Cup has remained competitive and the last two editions on non-US soil were tight affairs – America winning 15.5-14.5 in Korea in 2015 and 16-14 at Royal Melbourne in 2019.

However, with the US team looking stronger than ever, the 2022 Presidents Cup, due to take place at Quail Hollow Club, North Carolina, in September, looks at the mercy of the dominant home team who boast an 11-1-1 record in the competition.

Joe is a writer that has covered a whole range of sports for the last 10 years as a journalist and specialises in writing high-quality content on tennis and golf.
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