Liv rips up the International President’s Cup team at Quill Hollow

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2022 Presidents Cup

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow. Here’s our latest coverage, analysis and news from the tournament.

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Greg Norman once complained that after playing in two major cups and leading the international team twice, he was summarily cut short. His revenge took nine years, but he was duly served cold.

Not only has the international team gone, but the event itself has been weakened since Norman began paying his Saudi money to cement his revenge against the PGA Tour. The biggest American schisms in the LIV Tour backed by Norman were either struggling or skipping their start, but this summer’s Civil War cost the team once captain Norman—and led to his only win as a player—some of the best talent in the hollow Quail.

British Open champion Cameron Smith went. Chilean Joaquin Neiman and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, both of the top 25 players, are absent. Veterans such as Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman, are not available. The international is missing not only Smith’s best player but also four veteran players who almost surprised at their Norman grounds in Melbourne in 2019.

Cam Smith Australia 2022 Masters Round 1
Cameron Smith of Australia tackles his golf ball after putting on a No. 2 during the first round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Sam Greenwood Sam Greenwood/Augusta National

Meanwhile, there is really no one that the United States is missing. None of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka or Patrick Reed played well. There might have been a historical argument for Johnson or Reed as a choice leader under normal circumstances, but even that would have been a huge stretch.

What remains – a nearly full-strength American team against a cobbled, full-blown international team for the first time – vaguely recalls the less-than-glorious days of the Ryder Cup, before all of Europe was invited to the party, when the Americans used to beat snot from the British and Irish on a regular basis, losing three times in 50 years thanks to a talent difference that was nearly impossible to beat.

Clearly, things have been different at the Ryder Cup since 1979, and it is this newfound competitiveness that has transformed it from a largely festive—albeit still often exciting—event to the most prominent event on the biennial golf calendar. This was also what was missing in the Presidents Cup, where the international team struggled to gain the same traction as their European counterparts.

The final games in Melbourne in 2019 had some real horror, and the growth of international golf had a real impact on Americans in Charlotte, until Norman turned into a dyed-haired Bond villain. The timing is terrible.

Joaquin Niemann lines up on the 13th green during the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational-Boston Championships, Sunday, September 4, 2022 in Bolton, Massachusetts (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm AP

Regardless of what the LIV break meant for golf in general, it hampered this particular tournament. The state of golf in the rest of the world is strong, but heavy. There is neither depth of talent nor experience to easily substitute players like Smith, Neiman or Anser, three of the top six international players in the world golf rankings.

And no veterans like Leishman or Anirban Lahiri, who pick a potential captain, just sitting on the shelf, just the wrong Australian Cameron (Davis, not Smith).

Meanwhile, the US never blinked, not when the LIV players left, and not when Will Xalatores was injured. Kevin Kesner, the last American on the boat, will be the sixth-ranked player on the international team after LIV splits. Nine of the 12 American players are ahead of Hideki Matsuyama, the leader among international players.

In the end, none of that matters. The PGA Tour and LIV Tour will continue to fight their proxy wars elsewhere. This tournament will be played, as scheduled, and just expecting the United States to win easily does not mean they will win, or if they do, it will be easy.

The matching game has its way in the evening. Norman knows that. Even in 1998, when his international team won for the only time, he lost Sunday’s singles game to Woods, in his own backyard.

RBCHeritage2_Abraham Ancer.jpeg
Abraham Anser arrives in the ninth green during the second round of the RBC Heritage Championship presented by Boeing on Friday, April 16, 2021 at Harbor Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Scott Schroeder for the package

international affairs

What the 12-player international roster for the Presidents Cup will look like with the players who have left for the LIV Tour. Official world golf standings in parentheses; dissidents in bold italic. Kevin Kesner, the lowest ranked player in the United States, is ranked 27.

Cameron Smith, Australia (3)

Hideki Matsuyama, Japan (16)

Sungjae Im, South Korea (18)

Joaquin Niemann, Chile (20)

Tom Kim, South Korea (21)

Abraham Anser, Mexico (24)

Corey Connors, Canada (25)

Adam Scott, Australia (30)

Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa (33)

KH Lee, South Korea (41)

Mito Pereira, Chile (49)

Cameron Davis, Australia (63)

Sebastian Munoz, Colombia (65)

Christian Bezuidenhout, South Africa (66)

Se Woo Kim, South Korea (74)

Taylor Pendrith, Canada (107)

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This story was originally published September 19, 2022 5:49 am.

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock joined The News & Observer in 2000 and has covered six finals for the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the Stanley Cup in the Carolina Hurricanes. He is the current president of the US Basketball Writers Association, and was the 2020 National Headliner Award winner for the nation’s best sports columnist and twice named North Carolina Sports Writer of the Year.

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