Before I look at the final "official" event on the 2014-15 PGA Tour schedule, the Presidents Cup team competition, let's take a quick look back at how I fared at the FedEx Cup-ending Tour Championship.
My pick to win at East Lake in Atlanta was Justin Rose while still expecting new world No. 1 Jason Day to capture the FedEx Cup. I wasn't overly high on Jordan Spieth as he had scuffled a bit in the playoffs after an otherwise amazing year. But Spieth finished at 9-under 271 to beat out Danny Lee and Rose by three shots -- so I did hit on Rose as the top European finisher. Dustin Johnson was my choice as top American and he finished T5.
Spieth regained the world's No. 1 ranking with his fifth win in the past 19 starts this year. He's the youngest player since Horton Smith (21) in 1929 to win five times in season. Spieth is also the youngest winner of the Tour Championship and first player to win the Masters and Tour Championship in the same season. Spieth was officially named PGA Tour Player of the Year and won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average. He made so much money this year that his caddie made more than most PGA Tour pros. Spieth made about $23 million year when including the FedEx Cup $10 million bonus. That's a record.
So it's been a successful year, having predicted three total winners and hitting on many Top 10 and other props. Let's carry it over into 2015-16, which begins already next week at the Frys.com Open in Napa, Calif. Doubt you see most big names playing until the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in early November.
Now to the Presidents Cup, which begins Thursday at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon City, Korea. It's the first time the event has been staged in Asia. This is essentially like the Ryder Cup, only the USA vs. the rest of the world instead of the Americans against players from Great Britain and Ireland. The Presidents Cup alternates with the Ryder Cup; both are played every two years, with the Ryder Cup in even-numbered years ever since 2001's competition was canceled because of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Pretty much every big-name American (other than Tiger Woods) is playing this weekend, including Spieth, Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson; Lefty was a captain's pick along with J.B. Holmes, who replaced an injured Jim Furyk. Jay Haas is the Team USA captain. The U.S. Team is comprised of the Top-10 Americans who earned the most FedEx Cup points from Sept. 13, 2013, through Sept. 7, 2015 and then two captain's picks. The International Team is captained by Nick Price and includes players such as Jason Day, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. The International Team consists of the Top-10 international players (non-U.S. and non-European) from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Sept. 7, 2015, plus two captain's selections.
The format has reduced the total possible points earned from 34 to 30, so 15.5 to win, with five four-ball and five foursome matches on Thursday/Friday (versus six and six previously); and four four-ball and four foursome matches on Saturday (versus five and five). Five singles matches will be played on Saturday, and all players take part in singles matches on Sunday. Each player will be required to participate in two of the first four sessions, with every player competing in the Sunday singles. This is the 10th Presidents Cup. The Americans are 8-1-1; the only International Team win was in 1998.
Golf Odds: Presidents Cup Favorites
At Bovada , the Americans are -210 favorites with the Internationals at +210 and a draw at +1400. Spieth is the +700 favorite to be the top combined points scorer and he's +400 to be the top American scorer. Spieth's first Presidents Cup was in 2013, an 18.5-15.5 USA win. He finished 2-2-0.
Day is +800 to be the top combined points scorer and +350 top International team scorer. The Aussie is making his third Presidents Cup appearance and is 4-4-0. I think the whole world wants to say Spieth and Day battle in Sunday singles.
Mickelson is the only guy to compete in every Presidents Cup. He had a lousy year but is 20-16-11 overall in this event. It's the first time he's been a captain's pick at the Presidents Cup since that first appearance in 1994. Mickelson is +2000 to be the top combined points scorer and +1200 as the top American. The American long shot is Chris Kirk at +2500 and the International long shots at +1600 are Anirban Lahiri (honestly never heard of him), Sangmoon Bae, Steven Bowditch and Thongchai Jaidee.
Golf Odds: Presidents Cup Picks
I do like the Americans to win the event; they are clearly much deeper overall. Generally the best players aren't the stars of these events. For example, Ian Poulter is often the best European player in the Ryder Cup (Sergio Garcia is very good too, though). Fowler, for example, was just 0-1-3 playing with Jimmy Walker at last year's Ryder Cup. But Presidents Cup first-timer Patrick Reed was 2-0-0 playing four-ball with Spieth there. And really that's the problem with betting this event as you don't know who will be paired together or face off in singles.
So for the top American scorer, I'm taking Zach Johnson at +1000. He is 7-6-0 in his Presidents Cup career and is rumored to be paired with Spieth. For the top International, I like Matsuyama at +600. He was 1-3-1 at the 2013 Presidents Cup but he's the top Asian player on the team and that should fire him up playing there.
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