There’s no question that the teams at the 2022 Presidents Cup are lopsided. It’s not necessarily accurate that the United States has the 12 best players and the international team has the 12 worst, but you could posit something close to that and not be far off.
There’s also no question that this is a problem hampering interest in this year’s event. Following an outrageously good 2019 Presidents Cup, it was not irrational to believe that future Presidents Cups were going to be a lot closer than those of the past — and perhaps even more competitive than Ryder Cups.
With the defections of international players like Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann and Louis Oosthuizen to LIV Golf, that narrative has changed quite a bit. Nowhere is that more clear than in the individual player rankings. If you’re looking at the rosters as a whole, you can squint and possibly talk yourself into a competitive week. If you look at the player rankings based on current form and past performance at team events, though, there’s absolutely no chance.
1. Justin Thomas (U.S.): J.T. gets the narrow nod over Scottie Scheffler because of his incredible play in team events (he’s 10-2-3 in non-singles play at Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups). He knows what’s expected of him, and unlike a lot of talented athletes, he definitely wants the ball when the lights go on.
2. Scottie Scheffler (U.S.): The No. 1 player in the world deservingly received the PGA Tour Player of the Year trophy two weeks ago. Though he hasn’t won since the Masters, his ball-striking numbers have remained similar, and his level of play outside of putting has hardly dropped off at all. He’s probably ready to shoulder a massive load at U.S. team events.
3. Xander Schauffele (U.S.): No matter which way you slice it, Schauffele has been one of the top three players at this event over the last six months. He’s a menace from tee to green, and he has a 6-3-0 career record at U.S. team events, including a 4-0-0 mark in foursomes play alongside Patrick Cantlay (with whom he’ll be paired often this week).
4. Sungjae Im (international): This is maybe a stretch for Im, but I’m trying to find some hope for Trevor Immelman’s side, and Im has been playing fantastic golf. He’s second in this field in ball-striking over his last 20 rounds and nearly won the Tour Championship over Scheffler and Rory McIlroy. Nobody on either team scored more than the 3.5 points he posted in 2019 at Royal Melbourne.
5. Tony Finau (U.S.): One of the breakout stars of last year’s Ryder Cup has also been one of the best players in the world over the last six months. Finau ranks behind only Scheffler and Schauffele in ball-striking in the last six months.
6. Patrick Cantlay (U.S.): He’s been good on this course, good in match play at team events and terrific overall in the last two months. There’s a lot to like. Cantlay and Finau are the only players averaging at least 0.3 strokes gained per round across all four categories (driving, approach play, around the green and putting).
7. Max Homa (U.S.): He’s rolling in off his fifth win last week in Napa, California, into his first-ever team event where he should thrive. It helps that he’s won at Quail Hollow before and has been one of the top six players at this event over his last 20 rounds.
8. Cameron Young (U.S.): He’s been the longest player of anyone in this event over the last 12 months, and only Taylor Pendrith is close. According to Data Golf, Young gets the biggest course fit bump of any of the 24 golfers who will tee it up this week. If he’s paired with Tony Finau, it’s going to be an absolute bonanza off the tee.
9. Jordan Spieth (U.S.): He’s been showing real glimpses of his old iron-playing self, but the putter has not been magical of late (to say the least). I’m confident he’s going to play solidly, but I’m not going to scream it from the rooftops like I have at past team events because this last season was statistically the worst season of his PGA Tour career.
10. Sam Burns (U.S.): Burns cooled a bit at the end of last season and has not been a great ball-striker over the last few months. However, he seems perfectly constructed for match play at Quail Hollow (long, great iron player who putts well) and should thrive in his pod alongside Scheffler, Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner.
11. Hideki Matsuyama (international): The 2021 Masters champion is playing his fifth Presidents Cup. He has the second-best strokes-gained number at Quail Hollow of everyone at this event behind only Thomas and just ahead of Spieth and Billy Horschel.
12. Adam Scott (international): Closed out last season with two top fives in his last four starts. However, his overall match play record at the Presidents Cup is 16-22-6, which is not great considering most of that came in the middle of the prime of his career. He also continues to insist on dressing most like a dad of anyone at this event.
Adam Scott continues to make “I want to look as much like a 40-year-old dad as humanly possible” wardrobe choices. pic.twitter.com/QMSUtFPxnU
13. Collin Morikawa (U.S.): How scary is it that the U.S. has a two-time major winner this low? The internationals don’t have a single multiple-time major winner on their squad, and the U.S. can roll out somebody who did that last year as their 10th-best player.
14. Corey Conners (international): How is this Conners’ first Presidents Cup?! He’s an immense ball-striker (fifth in the field in his last 20 rounds), but the short game might hold him back from winning many matches and could especially be a problem in alternate shot.
15. Tom Kim (international): Maybe the biggest difference between floor and ceiling of anybody in the field. Kim is an outstanding iron player (best in the field over his last 20 rounds), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win two or three matches against against players who outmatch him off the tee (which is most of them).
16. Billy Horschel (U.S.): An up and down year for Horschel, who both won Memorial but also didn’t finish in the top 20 on the PGA Tour after that through the Tour Championship. Quail Hollow is not a great fit for him statistically, but I also wouldn’t want to face him in match play at any point.
17. Cameron Davis (international): Consider me intrigued here. He’s one of the four or five longest players in the field and one of the few international players who has the firepower to keep with most of the U.S. guys off the tee. He also ended this most recent PGA Tour season with five top 20s in his last six starts. He’ll likely prove to be a nice captain’s pick by Immelman.
18. Taylor Pendrith (international): Along with Davis, he was clearly picked because of his length, but he’s also been hitting his irons quite well and had six top 15s in his last seven PGA Tour starts last season (T67 at last week’s Fortinet Championship).
19. Si Woo Kim (international): His putting has been scary bad recently, but you know the talent is in there to take on anybody the U.S. can throw at him. Always an unknown at events like this, but who could forget him going full “shhhhh” at the 2017 Presidents Cup with his team down two touchdowns on Sunday.
20. Mito Pereira (international): The near-PGA Championship winner has had a strong season, but he didn’t have a single top 40 over his last six events and doesn’t bring a lot of ball-striking momentum into Quail Hollow.
21. Kevin Kisner (U.S.): He’s been the worst ball-striker in the field over the last 12 months, and a lot of that is due to the fact that he’s the shortest player off the tee by a fairly healthy margin (although Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Tom Kim are close). Kisner might in fact clean up in match play like he does at the WGC event, but on paper, he’s not a great fit for this golf course.
22. K.H. Lee (international): He posted one top 10 after his win at the AT&T Byron Nelson earlier this year.
23. Sebastian Munoz (international): He posted zero top 10s after his T3 at the AT&T Byron Nelson earlier this year.
24. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (international): He’s one of just two golfers in the event that has a negative strokes-gained ball-striking number over his last 20 rounds (Kisner is the other). That’s not going to go well at Quail Hollow.