The United States has dominated the Presidents Cup since the event was first played in 1994. But with the new changes to the format announced today by the PGA Tour, that lasting domination may become slightly more difficult to maintain.
In short, the changes will involve less points up for grabs and less matches altogether, which, as International Team captain Nick Price argued recently, should help to even out the playing field and create more excitement during the matches.
Here’s a list of the changes, which will be in play during this year’s event held October 6-11 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon City, South Korea.
- Total points available reduced from 34 to 30, with five four-ball matches and five foursome matches on Thursday and Friday, instead of six and six. Four four-ball matches and four foursome matches will be played on Saturday, instead of five and five.
- Each player must compete in two of the first four sessions, with every player competing in Sunday singles. Team members were previously required to play in three of four foursome/four-ball portions.
- The host team’s captain will determine the order of the matches on Thursday and Friday, which was previously determined by competition agreement. In South Korea, it will be Price’s decision which format (either foursomes or four-ball) is played on Thursday and Friday.
- Any match that ends 18 holes all-square will not be taken to sudden death, as they were in the past, but instead will end with each team being awarded a half point, like the Ryder Cup.
The changes will make the Presidents Cup format more similar to that of the Ryder Cup, and should help to create more dramatic finishes.
“For quite some time, the International Team has been advocating for a reduction in total points, while the U.S. Team felt strongly that the Presidents Cup format should remain as it has been,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. “After numerous meetings and discussions, it was apparent that both captains felt passionate about their respective positions, as did their potential team members.
“After careful consideration of all the viewpoints and closely examining the history of the matches, I feel strongly that the changes we are implementing will strike a balance between maintaining the unique makeup of the Presidents Cup—which is important to the players, fans, sponsors and partners—and the competitive environment for both teams.”
During a press conference ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Price argued that, “those 22 points available in the team matches make it very easy for one team to get so far ahead that it takes all the excitement out of the Sunday singles,” he said. “If you want the strongest team to win every time, then make as many points as you want, play everyone every day and then the Americans and probably going to win 90 percent of the time.”
Well, Price got his wish.
The long-term impact of the changes remains to be seen, but in the short term, the International squad might have one of its strongest teams in recent memory with players like Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama and Branden Grace set to make the team.