Presidents Cup By The Numbers: Who Has the Edge?

October 7, 2015

Numbers don’t lie, they just don’t necessarily prove anything.

If they did, well, you could pretty much cancel this week’s Presidents Cup. In just about every analysis of the records, the United States looks like Goliath to the Internationals’ David.

Of course, you already knew that thanks to the 8-1-1 mark the U.S. has built up while owning this event.

The Cup will be decided on the course in South Korea, not on a spreadsheet, however. And while history records the past, it does not forecast the future.

MORE: Every First-Round Match and Tee Time at the Presidents Cup


So take these numbers as mere indicators, crunched for your enjoyment and subsequent disposal. They simply tell you what you already suspected:

Most major titles. United States 11, Internationals 4. (U.S.: Mickelson 5, Z. Johnson 2, Spieth 2, Watson 2. Internationals: Scott 1, Day 1, Schwartzel 1, Oosthuizen 1.)

This stat would be even more out of whack if Tiger Woods had made the team with his 14 major titles. Even so, the Americans have an almost three-to-one advantage.

The edge: United States.


Most players who have won majors. Internationals 4, United States 4. This looks like a dead heat except that Americans won three of the four majors this year—two by Spieth, of course, and one by Zach Johnson. That currency is an advantage.

The edge: United States.

Most wins this season. United States 17, Internationals 12. Those worldwide victory totals don’t sound bad until you take out Spieth and Day, who racked up five wins each. That means the other 11 Americans combined for only 12 wins while the other 11 Internationals managed only seven, most of them outside the PGA Tour.

The edge: United States.

Most players with wins this season. United States 10, Internationals 7. That’s right, nearly half of the International lineup didn’t score a victory this season, including Adam Scott, who is counted on as one of the team’s big guns. While Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have won majors (and not recently), they have no wins this season. That’s not a good sign.

The edge: United States.

Most career victories. Internationals 128, United States 118. Winning is winning, whether it’s on the PGA Tour or in Japan, Malaysia or India. The Internationals simply have more practice at it than the Americans. Remove wild-card pick Mickelson from this category and the Internationals have a whopping 128-72 advantage.

The edge: Internationals.


Home-field advantage. The host team has an 8-1-1 mark in the Presidents Cup. The Internationals’ only win came in Australia. That event was played in December in the middle of the off-season, which many American players weren’t enthused about and it showed in the results. Still, the numbers don’t lie.

The edge: Internationals.

MORE: TV Viewing Guide for the Presidents Cup

All-time score. United States 190.5, Internationals 141.5. This stat reveals the biggest problem with the Prez Cup: that it hasn’t been close. That’s a margin of almost 50 points over ten years, and a gap of five points per year is the difference between drama and snoozing. Only twice has the difference been less than three points — in 1996 when the U.S. won by two and the infamous tie in 1993 (infamous because the captains called the PGA Tour commissioner when darkness halted a playoff and got the rules changed so that a tie was allowable).

The edge: United States.

Presidents Cup match records. United States 40-39-7, Internationals 25-35-8. As expected, this category reflects the American dominance that has claimed eight of the ten Cups. Then again, the Americans playing in this event haven’t won half of their matches (40 wins in 86 matches). It’s still better than the oppositions’ mark of 25 wins in 68 matches. Using logic we’ve heard at the Ryder Cup, maybe the Internationals are better off having new players who aren’t so used to losing.

The edge: United States.

Most Presidents Cup experience: United States 96 matches, Internationals 68. Mickelson’s 47 matches account for nearly half of the U.S. total. Factor in the Ryder Cup experience for the U.S., plus five International players haven’t played in this before and a sixth, Branden Grace, played in one and got drilled in 0-4 fashion, and the scale clearly tips.

The edge: United States.

Most players with winning match records. United States 3, Internationals 1. Bubba Watson (3-2), Zach Johnson (7-6) and Mickelson (20-16-11) have winning records but not a high winning percentage. Schwartzel is 5-4-1 for the Internationals.

The edge: United States.


Fewest rookies. United States 5, Internationals 5. This is not the tie that it may appear to be. Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and J.B. Holmes have all played in at least one Ryder Cup. The only true American rookie in team match play therefore is Chris Kirk. That said, everybody has to be a rookie sometime.

The edge: United States.

Best in fourballs. That’s the bestball, or better ball, format. Holy Greg Norman, the Internationals actually lead in one category! The Internationals have outscored the U.S. in fourballs, 54.5-51.5. That’s a slim margin over ten years but it’s something. In the last three PC’s, however, the Americans hold an 18-13 advantage.

The edge: Internationals.

Best in foursomes. That’s the alternate shot format and the Internationals suck at it, history shows. The Americans have outscored them in this category, 65-41, including a 9-1 shellacking in 2000 and a 10.5-0.5 destruction in 2007. Minus those two lopsided showings, the Internationals are only slightly worse in this format.

The edge: United States. S

Best singles records. There’s no hiding in singles. No excuses, just man on man, and the U.S. has a 65-55 lead. The Internationals have outscored the Americans in singles only twice, in 2007 in Montreal (when Mike Weir took down Tiger Woods, remember?) and last time, when they won 7.5 of the 12 singles points. In the last four PC’s, the Internationals actually hold a 25.5-22.5 advantage in singles.

The edge: United States.

Average world ranking. United States 15.7, Internationals 25.2. These numbers are skewed by the Internationals’ low man, Sang Moon Bae, who ranks 88th in the world. The other 11 Internationals rank 19.5 without him, not that big of a gap. Seen another way, though, the gap is substantial. Nine of the 12 Americans rank inside the top 20, with the other three inside the top 30. Day, ranked No. 2 in the world, is the only International player among the top 12, and only four more Internationals rank better than 30th.

The edge: United States.


Most players ranked in world’s top ten: United States 5, Internationals 1. All right, now this is starting to look scary.

The edge: United States.

Youngest team. Internationals 30.4 (average age), United States 32.7. Does age actually matter? Or does experience outweigh youth? The Europeans had an older team at last year’s Ryder Cup and they won at Gleneagles, but the Ryder Cup also features fewer matches and fewer potential 36-hole days for some players. Who knows? This category is a crock.

The edge: Toss-up.

The total: United States gets the edge in 13 categories, Internationals in three, and one tossup.

The final edge: United States… duh.