Presidents Cup 2017: Liberty National Golf Club, New Jersey
The Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey is going to be the host of the President’s Cup this time around, a venue where the Northern Trust Championship has been hosted in the past. Players will encounter a Par-71 which is about 7300 yards in length.
The layout of the course is a little different in that the front nine will be a par 38 but the back nine will only be a par 33. Designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp, the course opened on 2006. It cost nearly $200 million dollars to build and apparently contains imported Belgian stone to make the cart paths.
The wind can play havoc with the golfers here making conditions much tougher than expected. Current forecasts suggest there will be medium to high wind gusts on Thursday but mellow down for the rest of the weekend. Some rain could also come into play on Sunday.
The roughs will penalise players that miss the fairways but the length of the thick grass has been shortened after players rated this course as their least favorite back in 2009.
The President’s Cup is often referred to as the poor cousin to the Ryder Cup with some people even questioning its relevance in the current scheme of things. Nevertheless this team event is hugely popular around the world and will be grabbing out attention over the next few days.
It’s America versus the International (excluding Europe) as two teams of 12 players each will compete over 4 days. The first day will see five fourball matches, the second will see five foursome matches, Saturday will be a mix with four fourballs in the morning and four foursome matches in the afternoon while Sunday will be all about 12 singles matches. A total of 30 matches will be played and the first team to 15.5 will win the cup.
The American team is stacked with some of the biggest names in golf. Steve Stricker is captain and his team has Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Chappell, Daniel Berger, Charlie Hoffman, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson.
The International team is led by Nick Price and is pretty strong as well. Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Grace, Adam Hadwin, Jhonattan Vegas, Si-Woo Kim, Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri.
Players will be tested on every aspect of their game but accuracy and gaining strokes off the tee is going to be key here. There is plenty of water as well as holes that have heavy bunkering around them making the angle of the approach key.
Stats That Matter
Team USA has won 9 out of the last 11 President’s Cup including the last 6 events. Half of the USA team players will be making their President’s Cup debut this year while Phil Mickelson will be playing his 12th edition of the tournament.
The average age of team USA is 31.4, bumped up slightly from 30 thanks to Phil Mickelson. The players have an average of 8.5 PGA Tour wins to their name and an average ranking of 15.5 and the combined record of the players that have played this event previously is 38-36-16.
For the international team, their average age is 29.9, an average of 3.5 PGA Tour to their name and an average ranking of 31.6. The combined President’s Cup record of the players that have played here in the past is a not too shabby 39-50-14.
The Wolf would like to point out here that these stats look close on paper, as they should among some of the best players in the world, but some of the ‘rookies’ that team USA is bringing to this tournament have the potential to be golf legends down the line.
Another stat that speaks out is the fact that the International team has only come within 3 points of the USA team once when the event was held in the United States of America.
The Americans are going to be overwhelming favourites to defend their title and considering the quality of the squad they have put together this year it is hard to argue against that. At $1.32 for the outright win to USA, there is really very little value but the Wolf will not advise going against the grain here. Either sit this bet out or bank some money on one of the safest bets you can make.
The real value is in trying to predict the correct score. USA won 15.5-14.5 in 2015, 18.5-15.5 in 2013 and 19-15 in 2011. With a strong squad this year, the Wolf recommends backing an 18-12 scoreline at $11.00.
The top points scorer bets also offer some excellent opportunities. An in-form Marc Leishman at $3.25 for the top Australian point scorer is an excellent bet in the Wolf’s opinion. He just won the BMW Championship against many of the players he will be playing against and finished 6th in the FedEx Cup standings.
The top international scorer has Jason Day as the favourite at $5.50 but the Wolf likes Leishman at $7.00 or Branden Grace at $10.00 as an outside bet. Grace finished 6th in the British Open and managed to stay in the FedEx Cup running till the Dell Technologies Open. Both men will play the full slate available and with Day likely to get paired against America’s best the latter two are more likely to get favourable matchups in the singles.
On the American side, picking the top point scorer is going to be a lot more difficult since there are so many players that could go on a tear. The Wolf likes Rickie Fowler for the top scorer at $7.50. He fell back a bit at the final hurdle of the FedEx Cup but there is no questioning his form. His accuracy will be a great asset on this course as will his putting.
Outright Win: USA ($1.32)
Correct Score: USA 18-12 ($11.00)
Top Australian Point Scorer: Marc Leishman ($3.25)
Top International Point Scorer (Best): Marc Leishman ($7.00)
Top International Point Scorer (Value): Branden Grace ($10.00)
Top USA Point Scorer: Rickie Fowler ($7.50)
Top Debutant Point Scorer: Justin Thomas ($4.00)