The Presidents Cup is a biennial golf competition that pits a United States team against a squad of international (non-European) players in non-Ryder Cup years. First staged in 1994 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia, the Presidents Cup is conducted as a match-play event, with teams competing in foursome and four-ball matches during early sessions before singles matches are held on the final day of play. The U.S. team, which won the 2011 competition at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia, has been victorious seven of the nine times the Presidents Cup has been contested.
The Presidents Cup is designed to give the world's best non-European players a chance to compete in International team match-play competition, pairing a United States team against a squad of international players (both helmed by non-playing captains).
Members of the U.S. team are traditionally selected based on official PGA earnings from the two seasons leading up to the event, with an allowance for two captain's picks. The International team is chosen on the basis of the Official World Golf Ranking, in addition to two captain's picks.
The Presidents Cup competition format is a different event than the Ryder Cup in several ways. While the Ryder Cup is made up of 28 matches overall, the Presidents Cup competition consists of 34 matches: 11 foursomes (alternate shot), 11 four-ball (better ball) matches and 12 singles matches involving all players on the final Sunday.
All Presidents Cup matches are worth one point each, for a total of 34 points. There are no playoffs for foursomes or four-ball, with each side receiving a half-point if the match finishes all square after 18 holes.
Singles matches all square after 18 holes will go to extra holes until a team winner is determined. In a change inspired by the events of the 2003 Presidents Cup, if the match is deadlocked at the end of Singles play, the competition will be deemed a tie, and the teams will share the Presidents Cup.
The first Presidents Cup event was held Sept. 16-18, 1994, at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. The U.S., led by captain Hale Irwin, defeated captain David Graham's International team, 20-12. The Americans won eight of the 12 singles matches in the first edition of the event, and Fred Couples won full points in all three of his matches played during the competition.
The U.S. retained the cup in 1996, winning by a narrow margin at the same site as the inaugural edition. Two years later, the International team -- captained by Peter Thomsen -- staged its only outright win in the competition in 1998, by virtue of a 20.5 to 11.5 score line. That year, the event was held outside the U.S. for the first time, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
The event returned to the Robert Trent club in 2000, when Ken Venturi's U.S. team reclaimed the trophy. In that edition, the U.S. enjoyed its widest margin of victory, winning 21.5 to 10.5; Davis Love III won all four points in his matches.
The 2003 edition of The Presidents Cup was originally scheduled to be held in November 2002 but was postponed for a year in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (That year, the 2001 Ryder Cup was canceled altogether and played the following year.) The teams finished regulation tied at 17 points apiece at The Links at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in George, South Africa. Ernie Els and Tiger Woods were then designated to represent their teams in a sudden-death playoff to determine a champion. With the two players tied after three holes and with darkness descending, team captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus decided that the teams would share the Cup.
Both captains returned to lead their teams in 2005, when the U.S. captured the Presidents Cup by an 18-15 margin. The U.S. team then repeated as champion in 2007, wrapping up its fifth Presidents Cup victory in seven tries at Royal Montreal Golf Club in 2007 with a 19-14 victory, the U.S. team's first win at an international venue in the competition's 13-year history.
Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco played host to the Presidents Cup in 2009. Fred Couples -- a four-time participant in the event -- captained the U.S. to a 19-14 win over the International team and its first-time captain Greg Norman.
Since the inaugural edition, the event has featured U.S. presidents and national leaders as chairmen for the competition. President Gerald Ford presided over the first Presidents Cup as Honorary Chairman. President George H.W. Bush, an avid golfer like Ford was, served as Honorary Chairman for the Presidents Cup 1996. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was Honorary Chairman for the 1998 event. In 2000, President Bill Clinton made history when he became the first sitting president to serve as Honorary Chairman. In 2003, Thabo Mbeki, president of the Republic of South Africa, was Honorary Chairman. President George W. Bush served as the Honorary Chairman of the Presidents Cup 2005, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the 2007 Honorary Chairman. President Barack Obama was the Honorary Chairman in 2009.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club is a golf complex in Melbourne, Australia, that features two 18-hole layouts and has hosted a number of international events, including the Presidents Cup competition in 1998 and 2011.
Founded in 1891, Royal Melbourne is the oldest golf club in Australia and moved to its current location in 1901. It has become one of the more prominent courses among a group known as the Sandbelt courses in the Melbourne area.
Considered one of the world's top courses open to the public, Melbourne's West Course was originally designed by Alister MacKenzie in the early 20th century. A second layout, the East Course, was added when additional land was purchased by the club in the 1920s. The club also features a two-story clubhouse, completed in 2003, that replaced an older structure on the grounds.
In an attempt to draw hosting duties for international events, 12 holes of Royal Melbourne's West Course and six holes from its East Course were combined to form a Composite Course in 1959. That year, Melbourne played host to the Canada Cup (precursor to the Mission Hills World Cup), an event that has since returned twice to Melbourne. The Composite Course has also hosted the Eisenhower Trophy in 1968 and the Australian Open on several occasions. In 1998 the club hosted the Presidents Cup, the first time it was held outside the USA.