Ultimate guide to the Presidents Cup
When Tiger Woods confirmed last month that he would be playing in the President's Cup the golfing world took an excited leap in the air.
Already team captain of the USA for the biennial showdown, his win at the Masters this year was a signal the GOAT was back and tournament organisers were licking their lips.
The Presidents Cup is played every two years, a showdown between the best 12 players from the USA and the best 1 from non-European countries, which makes up the International team.
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Woods, although he climbed to world No.7 this year, didn't qualify automatically.
But he had an ace up his sleeve. The captain gets to pick the final four players.
So, with a small hint of a grin, he said "my final pick is Tiger Woods".
His appearance on the fairways of Royal Melbourne brings an added edge to an event which in recent times has been one-way traffic.
Through 12 stagings of the event, starting in 1994, the mighty Americans have won 12 times.
The only International victory came way back in 1998, the first of three Presidents Cups at Royal Melbourne.
This year's is the third, and while the domination of the USA threatened to undermine the event as a competition, the return to Australia has levelled the playing field considerably.
Half the American team have never been to Australia, let alone Royal Melbourne, a course tagged as "fast and firm", and unlike so many of the tracks so many of the players play on so much of the time.
The team nature of the event is another which makes the star-studded US team, which boasts half of the world's top 10 players, potentially "gettable" for an international line-up determined to end their run of losses.
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So much so Aussie great Adam Scott, who has played on eight losing teams, even declared he would be "disappointed" if local fans even cheered Woods and the major champions on his team.
The Presidents Cup gets underway next Thursday, with four rounds of foursomes and fourball, where two members of each team will pair up against an opposing duo.
The pairings will be decided by each team captain the day before the event.
Then on Sunday it's every man for himself, in 12 singles matches which could ultimately determine who takes the Presidents Cup.
PRESIDENTS CUP - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
VENUE: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Cheltenham Rd, Black Rock
TICKETS: Grounds pass $155 for single day, $530 for the week.
TV: Channel 9
Monday Dec 9 - Official launch
Tuesday Dec 10 - Practice rounds
Wednesday Dec 11 - Practice rounds, captains pairings announced
Thursday Dec 12 - first round (fourball) - play starts 9.30am
Friday Dec 13 - second round (foursomes) - play starts 11am
Saturday Dec 14 - third round (foursomes) starts 7am, fourth round (foursomes) starts midday
Sunday Dec 15 - final round (singles x 12) - play starts 10am
Captain: Ernie Els (South Africa)
Marc Leishman (Australia)
Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)
Adam Scott (Australia)
Abraham Ancer (Mexico)
Li Haotong (China)
Pan Cheng-tsung (Chinese Taipei)
Cameron Smith (Australia)
Im Sung-jae (South Korea)
An Byeong-hun (South Korea)
Adam Hadwin (Canada)
Joaquín Niemann (Chile)
Playing Captain: Tiger Woods
WHAT IS FOUR BALL?
Two players from each team compete over 18 holes. There are five matches, so 10 players play. Like a normal stroke player event, each player plays his own ball. But only the best score from either team counts. So if one International player makes a birdies, and the other a par, the lower score counts. If the Americans score the same, then the hole would be halved. An International birdie and two American pars on the same hole would be an International win. They would go 1-up. Play continues until one team is clear. So a team 2-up with one hole to play would win the match after 17 holes. Each of the five matches is worth one point.
WHAT IS FOURSOMES?
Two players from each team compete against each other, but instead of playing their own ball, its alternate shot. So if one player tees off, his teammate hits the next shot, and on they go until each hold is finished. The best score wins the hole. Like fourball, as soon as one team is clear, they win. It could be 3-2, that is three up with two to play. Each of the five matches is worth one point.
HOW DOES SINGLES WORK?
It's matchplay, man on man over 18 holes, with each player trying to outscore the other hole by hole. A birdie for the International player and a par for the American would mean an International win on that hole. They would go 1-up. But a score reversal on the next would bring the match back to all-square. And so they go until a victory is secured. Say if one player is 3-up with two holes to play, they win, and the match ends. Each match is worth a single point.