The rout is officially on. The U.S. team is sprinting away with the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, leading 8-2 after two sessions. Unfortunately for the Internationals, that means one harrowing possibility is in play: the Cup could theoretically be claimed Saturday, before singles matches even begin Sunday morning.
To do so, the Americans would need to win 7 of the available 8 points across the two Saturday sessions. That would assure them of at worst a tie, which is all the U.S. team needs to retain the Cup.
This scenario isn’t likely — let’s be clear about that — but it is possible. In fact, a similar situation played out at the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National. The Americans lead 8-2 after Friday and were in absolute cruise control. After winning the first session Saturday, Daniel Berger, drunk on confidence, said on the television broadcast:
“I mean, our goal from the minute we got here was to crush them as bad as we can. I hope that we close them out today, and we go out there tomorrow and beat them even worse.”
Berger almost got his wish. The Americans added another 3.5 points that Saturday afternoon, pushing the score to 14.5-3.5, just a point shy of winning the Cup on Saturday night and a mere half point shy of retaining it by hitting the minimum needed for a tie.
That was then, and this is now. It’s been a long five years for both of these teams. Jordan Spieth is no longer playing alongside Patrick Reed. Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day are nowhere to be found. Could the Americans actually pull it off?
It’ll take a full-out assault during both Saturday sessions for the Americans to retain the Cup. But they’ve basically been doing that thus far. At many points during each of the first two days, spectators looked up to see scoreboards filled with red.
For the matches to be decided on Saturday, the U.S. could afford to lose just one match, while also avoiding too many ties. In 2017, they tied just one match in each Saturday session, keeping the Internationals from ever adding a full point to the leaderboard. If the Americans win Saturday morning 3-1 or better, the chatter will certainly begin.
With 20 matches still up for grabs, that means a full 20 points remain for the taking. We are technically just 33 percent done with this Presidents Cup, but if the Americans go 7-1 during Saturday’s sessions, they’ll reach the requisite 15 points needed to retain the Cup. Fifteen and a half is what it takes to win the Cup outright, but that’s more a number for the Internationals to focus on. Fifteen would ensure at least a tie, which always goes to the team that last won the Cup. (That was the Americans, back in 2019, under captain Tiger Woods.)
If the Americans do happen to get it done Saturday, it would be an unprecedented result. The event would still go on, but there would surely be partying in the American team room. Those 12 matches on Sunday would be merely for record-keeping purposes, similar to what happened in 2017. The Americans showed up Sunday at Liberty National needing just a single tied match to retain the Cup. Any victory would get it done, and it happened early when Kevin Chappell tied Marc Leishman in the first match out. The Internationals claimed 7.5 points in that Sunday singles session, but it was far too little too late. The Americans won 19-11, the biggest margin of victory in nearly two decades.
We could be in for a similar situation this weekend. Or we could not! The first of eight matches Saturday begins at 7:12 a.m.