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This year, the biennial Presidents Cup arrives at Quail Hollow, where a rerouted design will be used to ensure that all matches reach the signature ‘Green Mile’ to heighten the drama.
However, golf’s ensuing civil war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has been the biggest story and means that selection for the Presidents Cup teams has taken different shape to previous years with a number of big names ineligible on both sides.
While the US team will have a different look to the all-conquering line-up of the 2020 Ryder Cup (played in September 2021), many of the Internationals' more established stars from the 2019 edition have defected to LIV and subsequently meant that they have faced suspensions from the PGA Tour and therefore the PGA Tour-run Presidents Cup.
Captains Trevor Immelman and Davis Love III still have a plethora of strong players to choose from to make up their respective teams, but it's impossible to ignore the big names missing including the likes of Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson.
Starting on Thursday, we preview ten players who won’t be making the trip to Charlotte for this year’s edition:
The International Team
The biggest name for the International Team should have been the 2022 Champion Golfer of the Year and current World No.3, Cam Smith. Right after his historic victory at the 150th Open at the Home of Golf, rumours started to circulate about whether he was set to join LIV Golf. After admitting ‘I’m ready to cop some heat’ at the FedEx St Jude Championship, the announcement of his move became a question of when not if.
Smith made his Presidents Cup debut in 2019, going 1-1-1 including a Sunday singles win against match play guru and US Team top scorer Justin Thomas. He also showcased his talent with a win at the Chicago edition of LIV’s series just last week. There is only one American player ranked higher than him in the world of golf, demonstrating how big of a miss he’ll be.
Another huge void will be the breakout star from the 2019 edition. Ancer was the International Team’s joint-top points scorer, going undefeated before succumbing to an inspired Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles. Since then, he recorded his first PGA Tour win at the 2021 WGC FedEx St Jude Championship, highlighting his credentials. Strong foursomes and four-ball skills are key to success in team events, therefore Ancer’s miss will be sorely felt amongst the International Team.
A President’s Cup stalwart who would’ve certainly had a positive influence on the team room, Leishman’s experience will be a significant blow to the International team.
This edition would’ve been his fifth Presidents Cup, and although his record of 6.5 points from a possible 18 is underwhelming, experience is something that can’t be bought. He only registered one PGA Tour top 10 at the Tournament of Champions (which was coincidentally won by his compatriot Smith) this season, but his expertise and guise would have been of some value to help guide rookies through the pressure cooker of the Presidents Cup.
The Chilean played a minor role in the 2019 edition, however he’s experienced a lot of success since then. After a hugely impressive wire-to-wire victory at the Genesis Invitational earlier this year, he’s occupied a space in the world’s top 20 throughout most of the season.
After finally establishing himself alongside the top players, Niemann could have gone toe-to-toe with many of Team USA’s stars.
The nearly man of 2021’s Majors, captain Immelman will lament his compatriot’s absence. Like Leishman, the 2010 Open champion has played in four Presidents Cups and has a strong record of 9-6-4, including 2.5 points in 2019. Oosthuizen’s talent is unquestionable.
He even added after last week’s LIV Golf event that he felt ‘the most bad for Trev [Immelman]’ a close friend of his who he regularly texts. This tight bond between player and captain could have certain united the team room.
A man with a wealth of team golf experience and a LIV Golf win a few weeks ago, Johnson’s credentials are incontestable. Since the 2019 Presidents Cup, he has won the 2020 Masters and occupied the top spot of the Official World Golf Ranking.
He has 11 from a possible 18 points in his four previous appearances and will be a sore miss for Davis Love III, who captained him before at both the 2012 and 2016 Ryder Cup. DJ, of course, went five-for-five at the 2020 Ryder Cup, too.
Captain America embodies the passion of match play golf. He always seems to come alive on this stage, however the riches of LIV Golf render him ineligible for this edition.
A tied-fifth finish at the DP World Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship recently reminded us of his talent, and due to his fiery competitiveness, he would’ve surely been in Davis Love III’s thoughts.
Although injuries have hampered his progress over the last few years, anyone who has four Major championships in the last five years cannot be discounted.
Koepka has become one of the biggest names in the sport after his vast successes, and despite only registering one Presidents Cup appearance in 2017, his steely grit will be missed by the US Team.
Another name who has been hampered by injury over the last season (least of all in an incident with a gallery rope in Chicago), big-hitting Bryson injects fear into his opponents.
Since the 2019 Presidents Cup he became a Major champion with victory at the 2020 US Open and has added a further two PGA Tour wins at the 2020 Rocket Mortgage and 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bryson is a huge name in the game of golf and would have surely been representing the US Team if he were eligible.
Another breakout star who was sure to be on the team before a back injury hampered his progress before the Tour Championship - Zalatoris is the only non-LIV player on this list.
A staunch PGA Tour defender, the talented American captured his first PGA Tour title in dramatic circumstances at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, having lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship and missing a putt to force a playoff and deny Matt Fitzpatrick at the US Open. He is certainly one we’ll be seeing in US Team colours sooner rather than later - look out for him at the Ryder Cup in Rome next year.
Hugo studies French and Spanish at Durham University and will graduate in 2023. He has always had a passion for the game of golf and everything around it, and took up the game aged seven. He currently holds a five handicap and had his first and only hole-in-one aged 18 in Scotland. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy.
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