Major winners Collin Morikawa, right, Justin Thomas, left, and Jordan Spieth of defending champion United States gather with the trophy at the Presidents Cup
Charlotte (AFP) - Reigning major champions Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas lead a powerhouse United States lineup into the Presidents Cup with great expectations for a ninth consecutive victory over the Internationals.
The Americans carry an 11-1-1 edge in the all-time rivalry and have never lost on home soil entering the 14th edition of the team golf showdown, which starts Thursday at Quail Hollow.
“We have a bunch of guys who are excited and ready to play,” US captain Davis Love said. “We’re really happy with the 12 we’ve got.”
The United States inflicted a record 19-9 rout upon Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup and seven members of that squad will compete this week against a non-European global lineup.
“A stacked and strong American team,” Internationals captain Trevor Immelman said. “They’re coming in here with a ton of confidence.”
The Americans have 10 players ranked among the world’s top 16 to none on the Internationals.
The six US players with Presidents Cup experience include two-time major winner Thomas, who took his first PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in 2017 and his second in May at Southern Hills, and Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.
“To have a team like this with great camaraderie and a lot of deep talent, it’s a lot of fun,” Thomas said.
Patrick Cantlay, last year’s PGA playoff champion, won two of his eight PGA titles this year, uniting with Schauffele to capture the PGA pairs event in New Orleans. They figure to be a Cup twosome as well.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, who makes a team-high fourth Presidents Cup appearance, won his 13th PGA title in April at the Heritage.
“Once you’ve kind of played in a couple of them, you’ve seen a lot of stuff,” Spieth said. “We’ve got a few guys on the team with that level of experience.”
Tony Finau won in back-to-back weeks at the end of July at the PGA 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Kevin Kisner, the oldest US player at 38, won twice and halved twice in his only prior Presidents Cup appearance in 2017.
Among six Presidents Cup rookies is top-ranked Masters champion Scheffler, who won four times this year and was voted PGA Player of the Year by his peers. Scheffler made his Ryder Cup debut last year with two wins and a tie.
“We’ve got a good team again this year and a lot of guys that are playing good golf right now,” Scheffler said.
Also among US newcomers is two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 British Open winner.
- Feels ‘surreal’ to Homa -
Another newcomer is Max Homa, who won his first PGA title at Quail Hollow in 2019 and his most recent last Sunday. He was vocal about wanting to make the squad.
“It has been fun having this to chase,” Homa said. “To finally be here feels a little bit surreal.”
Cameron Young was this year’s British Open runner-up and third at the PGA.
Sam Burns has won twice this season and four times in the past 16 months.
Billy Horschel won this year’s Memorial for his seventh PGA title and the 35-year-old was second in the PGA pairs event alongside Burns in a likely Cup combo. Horschel is seen as an emotional spark for the squad.
“Everybody’s pumping me up to be this energizer, like this cheerleader type player,” Horschel said. “I can be like that. But I want you to understand, it may not happen because we may not need it.”
That said, overconfidence is not a worry for Horschel.
“We know how to deal with it. This isn’t nothing new for us,” he said. “We haven’t had any conversation about that because I think we all know what we need to do.”