FANTASY GOLF PRESIDENT’S CUP PREVIEW
FANTASY GOLF PRESIDENT’S CUP PREVIEW
By James Dalthorp
BEAST DOME NATION.
Heading into the year 2020, I couldn’t think of a better way for golf fans to enjoy a holiday week of team golf down under to keep us at attention. Day 1 starts tomorrow at 5:30 PM Eastern as we head down under – to Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Royal Melbourne is on my lifetime bucket list of courses. I have been or played at some of Alister Mackenzie’s famous designs like Augusta and Cypress Point – and Melbourne has all the lore and historical genius of those pieces of art. Melbourne should be dried out and firm this week. It’s imperative to be a shotmaker – be able to hit the ball low and high if needed – and to be efficient from the bunkers.
There’s also a lot of interesting storylines this week. The international team is looking for a rare win with a group that has seven rookies. The American team, meanwhile – has a lot of rumors swirling around the penalty Patrick Reed received last week. With Brooks Koepka absent, Rickie Fowler was able to earn a berth. Ernie Els and Tiger Woods will lead their teams into the fire on Australian soil.
When it comes to team golf, America tends to fall behind Europe in recent years. We have not been able to get the upper hand in many recent Ryder Cups. However, the Presidents Cup is a US-dominant event.
Here are the lineups for the next day of play and how I expect them to fare:
1. JUSTIN THOMAS/ TIGER WOODS vs. MARC LEISHMAN/ JOAQUIN NIEMANN
I really like this first matchup. We’re basically playing best ball – so you want a team that can score and complement each other – especially if the other guy struggles in certain areas. This pairing has no weaknesses – and should make a lot of birdies. However, this match-up is a big conundrum. Leishman and Niemann are great ball strikers and drivers of the ball. I see them either being a very tough team or struggling to stay in it. Since Leishman is a native and Niemann is a solid young player, I think this match-up bodes well fro them. Since I’m a huge fan of Tiger and I think he really left a few shots out there at the Hero last week, I have to go with the Thomas/Woods pairing. But this international team could pull off this upset. It is not a safe bet.
WINNER: WOODS/THOMAS (USA)
2. XANDER SCHAUFFELLE/PATRICK CANTLAY vs. ADAM HADWIN / SUNJAE IM
Really interesting matchup here. I think Cantlay and Schaufelle will complement each other well. However, Hadwin is a special talent and I see him being a force this time around. He was a rookie in 2017, a year where he shot a 59 heading into the event. As a comeback player, I think the Canadian is in his prime and starting to get his confidence at these big stages. Schauffelle and Cantlay will be a tough team – as both players have continued to improve. He has played in 14 events since the 2019 Masters and has 11 top 25’s, 5 top 3’s, and a win. He’s ready for the big stage. I think in the end, Im and Hadwin bring a steady resolve that may give these guys a bit of a headache. I’m betting on the Internationals here because the rookie Americans may still be getting over that jet-lag (they got in a little later on Tuesday) and Hadwin’s experience will bring this home.
WINNER: HADWIN/IM (I)
3. DECHAMBEAU/FINAU vs. ADAM SCOTT/ BEN AN
Another great match to watch as a spectator. Finau and Dechambeau have different styles of play – but they are also bombers with a ton of talent. Adam Scott, though, is the veteran of this event on the international side. Although this is the youngest team they have ever had, Scott is at home and his ball striking will be a great asset around this course. His play will be the X factor on this course. I think Adam’s preparation will serve him well. Since Bryson Dechambeau has had some struggles of late and been negatively impacted by his pace of play questions, the extreme pressure of this event may be a little challenging at this time for him. I’ll go with the internationals again.
WINNER: SCOTT / AN (I) 2-1 Int.
4. WEBB SIMPSON / PATRICK REED vs. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA/ CT PAN
Great matchup here as well – and I like Reed and Simpson. Simpson is hot – coming off some strong performances of late, while Patrick Reed’s “cheating” incident has been a bit blown up. I don’t think it was an intentional mistake on Reed’s part – and he was given his penalty and moved on. While he has a history of brash behavior and questionable respect among the purists of the game, he is a true competitor that you want on your side. I think the negativity around him will make Reed even more pumped up. He has shown, like with Mcilroy in the Ryder Cup, that he is full of clutch shots when it matters on the big stage. Matsuyama is still figuring out the match play system – with only a full point in his singles match last year. Pan will also be getting experience here – I’ll take the US.
5. DUSTIN JOHNSON / GARY WOODLAND vs. ABRAHAM ANCER/LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN
Great matchup here and maybe one of the best matches of the whole week. Louis will be a key veteran for the internationals and I see the South African being another X factor for this event. Ancer is a very established player as well – and I think this is a very interesting matchup to pair them together. Since Woodland and Johnson have been playing well but are also a bit of a slow start in their regular events, I don’t see them jumping out to a huge start here. Because I respect Mexican Ancer and his exuberant play this past year, I am going to go with another upset on the international side. Ultimately, I see a US win. But in four ball, I will take a chance on the international guys here. Match play can be a great equalizer and I think the Ancer / Oosty pairing is one that could stand the test of time!!!