Every two years, two teams of 12 players get together and compete for the Presidents Cup. It's that time again, with a dozen Americans now in Australia to take on the Internationals in the 2019 edition of the biennial series.
This time around, it's Tiger Woods leading the American side as a playing captain, while Ernie Els has taken over the mantle of the International team from Nick Price.
So, which team will come out on top at the end of 30 matches over four days? Let's take a look at the better bet.
Many sports books have the Americans as a -275 favorite to win the 13th Presidents Cup over the Internationals. If you're willing to take the underdog on the moneyline, the Internationals are priced at +225 to win the Presidents Cup for the first time in 21 years. Considering the Americans are considered highly likely to win again, the bettor is giving some vig to the books to take what appears to be the safe bet. As always, shop for the best price at the BettingLounge.
There's good reason to put money on the USA.
The history of the Presidents Cup has worked in the Americans' favor. In the prior 12 Presidents Cups, the Americans have not won twice: when they lost at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and when the two sides agreed to a draw in the dimming light in South Africa in 2003. Since then, the Americans haven't lost, and, frankly, it's only been all that close once.
In 2015 in Korea, the Presidents Cup went from 34 matches down to 30 to give the Internationals a better chance. The Internationals responded, earning a real chance to win the cup before losing in a 15.5-14.5 nailbiter.
Two years later, the Americans resumed their dominating ways, earning their largest victory relative to the total points available. The Americans won 19-11 at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, just one Saturday afternoon match away from winning the Presidents Cup on Saturday and rendering the 12 Sunday singles matches moot.
What's more likely this time: a close call or a total blowout?
The Americans certainly have a more talented team on paper. Even with the withdrawal of Brooks Koepka and the insertion of his replacement, Rickie Fowler, all 12 Americans are currently ranked inside the top 24 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Three international players are ranked inside the world top 24: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama.
The Internationals have seven rookies on their team, meaning they have relatively little experience on this stage as a squad. It's also long been held that the mutlitude of languages spoken in the International team room and the variety of cultures hinders their ability to come together. However, on the converse, the Internationals having such little total experience means they have relatively little experience getting whacked every two years by the Americans, who have come to view the Presidents Cup as a warm-up for the Ryder Cup.
There are other reasons to believe the Internationals can keep it close against the Americans, and the host course is a big reason. Royal Melbourne is one of the world's best courses, and its firm and fast conditions will pose challenges to Americans who are used to and prefer softer conditions. Add in potential wind, and the Internationals may feel more comfortable than the USA.
What might turn the tide in the favor of the Internationals is a renewed approached to the fourball, or best ball, format. In recent memory, the Americans have a 28-point edge over the Internationals in the foursomes matches. By comparison, the Internationals actually has a 2-point edge over the Americans when combining the foursomes, or alternate shot, matches and the singles matches. If Ernie Els can create pairings which work in the fourball format, the Internationals have a chance, particularly with rule changes allowing Els to sit his weakest players for three of the first four sessions.
In the end, the Americans are likely to prove too much for the Internationals, but a spunky team with a feisty crowd on a confounding course could make this more interesting than expected.