Presidents Cup Format 2022
As with many of the notable team format competitions, the Presidents Cup features Four Ball, Foursomes and Singles Matches.
In 2022, five fourball matches will be played on Thursday; Five foursomes will take place on Friday. Saturday features four fourballs in the morning, and four foursomes in the afternoon. The Presidents Cup culminates with 12 singles matches on Sunday.
“Foursomes” feature two teams of two. It is sometimes known as alternate shot. In this, each team plays one ball, with players alternating shots. Tee shots also are alternated. So, for example, Justin Thomas tees off, and Jordan Spieth takes the next shot where Thomas’ ball landed. This continues until the ball is holed out.
At the end of each hole, each team’s total strokes are counted; the low score wins the hole for that team.
“Four Balls” matches feature two teams of two, with each playing their own ball from tee to green. Thus, there are four balls in play. At the end of each hole, the player who holed out in the fewest strokes wins the hole for his team. This is sometimes known as “best ball.”
In the singles matches, each player on the US Team is paired against a player from the International Team.
In all three formats, the team that wins the most holes during the round wins the match. A win scores a point for the side. If the match ends up tied, a half point is given to each team. That’s why Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup and similar often end up with final scores such as 15 1/2 to 14 1/2.
Match play has some peculiarities that are worth noting.
First, note that each hole in a Match is played in isolation. That is, after a hole is played, the strokes do not carry over to the next. Once the winner of a hole is determined, the score is reset for the next hole.
Because each hole is a separate event, it is possible that one team or player can get so far ahead that the other is mathematically eliminated before the match reaches 18 holes.. Suppose that when the International pair and a US pair finish the 16th hole, the Internationals are up by three holes. At that point, there is no point in continuing the match. Even if the US pair won both of the remaining holes, they still lose the match.
In this instance, the match is called at 16, and the score is reported as Internationals winning “3 and 2.” That means that the Internationals were up by three holes with two remaining. A score reported as “9 and 8” would signal a crushing defeat, with the winner being up by nine holes, with eight remaining (Tiger Woods beat Stephen Ames by just such as score in a match play event).
Scoring in match play events differ significantly from the usual stroke play. In Match play, rather than saying a player shot a 66, or is six under, the score is reported by how many holes one team is up or down in relation to the other.
Midway through a round, a match play score might be reported as “Internationals two up through eight.” This score indicates that after eight holes, the International Team has won five holes and the US team has won three. At the same time, the US team is “two down through eight.”
A match is “All Square” when both sides in a match have won an equal number of holes, as in “the match is All Square through ten.”
A “halve” occurs when players tie on an individual hole. Halves, however, are not reported during a round as part of the score. The score during the action is simply reported as the number of holes up or down.
When a match is reported to be “dormie,” it means that one side (or player) is up by the exact number of holes left in the match. The best they can do is tie. If the Internationals are up by three on the sixteenth tee, the match is “Dormie.” The US could win the next three holes, but the best that could happen is the match ends in a tie and each team gets a half point.
The “dormie” can create a situation where a team or players wins with a score like 5 and 3. That says the match ended with one team up by five with three holes to play. While it looks as though the match should have ended with four holes left, what happened was that the match was “dormie” with four to go. That is, the team that was down could have tied the match by winning the remaining four holes. They did not, however, losing the next hole. The match thus ended with the winner five up with three to go.
Unlike stroke play, in match play, players do not actually need to complete a given hole. On occasion, it becomes impossible for one player or side to tie, let alone win.
Suppose that on his second shot, Spieth holes out. His opponent, Tom Kim, hits his second shot and misses the hole. At that point, the hole is over; Spieth has won. There is no need to continue to play to record a score because it all resets on the next tee.
Another thing you will see in match play competition that never occurs in stroke play is a player “conceding” a shot, usually on a short putt. If Kim is a foot away from the hole, Spieth might say “that’s good,” giving him the stroke.
The most famous concession likely occurred in the 1969 Ryder Cup, when Nicklaus conceded a two-foot putt to Tony Jacklin that sealed a tie for Europe.
Nicklaus had just holed a four footer to seal at least a half, and Jacklin had his short putt to either tie the Ryder Cup or lose it. Nicklaus retrieved his ball from the hole and retrieved Jacklin’s marker, signalling that he had conceded the putt.
Nicklaus later said:
“I don’t know why but I very quickly thought about Tony Jacklin and what he had meant to British golf. Here he was, the Open champion, the new hero, and all of a sudden it felt like if he missed this putt he would be criticized forever. This all went through my mind in a very, very quick period of time and I just made up my mind, I said, ‘I’m not going to give Tony Jacklin the opportunity to miss it. I think we walk off of here, shake hands and have a better relationship between the two golfing organizations is the right way to do it’.”
Casual golfers routinely grant their partners “gimmies” but it is not actually within the rules in stroke play.
Match play rules also vary a bit. In match play, most penalties involve automatic loss of a hole, as compared to stroke play which adds penalty strokes. If a player plays out of order in Match Play, the opponent can force a replay of the shot.
I love match play; not only do I enjoy watching it, I think that more golfers should use the format in rounds. A Four Ball game in a foursome, or a straight match between singles can be fun and refreshing. A bad hole doesn’t ruin a round because the numbers don’t carry over. It also offers some fun golf betting opportunities and a way for a handicap to actually come into play.
Enjoy the Presidents Cup.