Poland’s Lewandowski takes the symbol of Ukraine to the World Cup

CHARLOTTE, NC: The Team USA Room in Quail Hollow has photos of Presidents Cup winning teams over the years, and it’s a wonder there’s room for each one. between them.

The matches started in 1994. The Americans lost only once.

Captain Davis Love III would quickly point out a detail from the most recent photo at Royal Melbourne three years ago: only four players from that team are at Quail Hollow this week – Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.

Let’s go back to the USA’s last victory at home, at Liberty National, such a madness it almost ended before Sunday’s singles. The only remaining players from that 2017 squad are Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

“We go into these things wanting to win every time,” Love said Tuesday. “I tell them, ‘You don’t have a criminal record.’ This 12 has never competed as a team before. This team understands. They want that photo next time.

The odds are strong in their favor that they will pose again with the gold trophy on Sunday. It’s one thing to have won the Presidents Cup in the last eight meetings against the international team, and 10 times out of 12 (one ended in a tie).

Add the LIV Golf factor and it has all the marks of another runaway.

Love heard this story, too.

“We’re used to being called favourites, even when we lose three Ryder Cups in a row,” said Love, who was one of six “favorite” teams that didn’t win a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. “Statistically, yes, we have a higher ranked team. But I know a bunch of these young guys in their squad, and they’re going to come in with a chip on their shoulder.

Tuesday was the first full day of practice for the 12-man teams at a Quail Hollow Club course that is familiar to most from hosting the Wells Fargo Championship in most years and the PGA Championship in 2017.

Adding to Team USA’s confidence, the Ryder Cup a year ago at Whistling Straits, a 19-9 win over an aging European team with no fan support due to COVID-related travel restrictions -19.

Seven Americans return from the team. Missing LIV defector Dustin Johnson. Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau also went to LIV, but both are still coming back from injury and probably wouldn’t have made that team anyway.

This team is so young that the player with the most Presidents Cup experience is Spieth, who turned 29 this summer and is playing for the fourth time.

His idea to keep his feet on the ground was to compete individually within a team.

“It’s almost like we’re all going to compete to get as many points as possible in our team. We want our own team’s bragging rights,” he said. “And if we keep to ourselves, then I don’t think you’re overconfident in the whole situation.”

International captain Trevor Immelman has had a harder time with defections from LIV, with two of the top 20 players – British Open champion Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann – only announcing their departure for the Saudi-backed league. three weeks ago.

He has eight Presidents Cup rookies in this team. Only three of them are in the top 25 in the world (the 12 Americans are all in the top 25).

But there is something in youth and inexperience that encourages it.

“If you look at our record in this tournament and you look at our world ranking versus their world ranking, we have absolutely nothing to lose,” Immelman said. “So we can go out there and play absolutely as freely as we want…and see if we can compete with the crazy good skills of the Americans.”

Immelman isn’t ready to look back, whether it was three years ago and the close call at Royal Melbourne or three weeks ago when the last of the players moved to LIV.

He said all the players who left – starting with good friend Louis Oosthuizen in June to Smith and Niemann after the Tour Championship – were in touch with him about their thinking and decisions. And he said they all know the ramifications.

“I respect those guys making those decisions,” he said. “I also respect them for keeping me up to date and making sure I understand exactly where we are at all times so I can try to be as prepared as possible. Am I disappointed they can’t be here ? Absolutely.

“But we have the 12 guys here that we love and wanted to be here, and now we can go. We will face a solid American team. So we are looking forward to it.

James V. Hayes