The Presidents Cup: USA vs. International Golf Match

The Presidents Cup Trophy with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the backdrop
The Presidents Cup Trophy had the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a backdrop when the tournament was played in Australia. Matt King/Getty Images for The Presidents Cup

The Presidents Cup is played every two years, in odd-numbered years, and pits the United States team against the International team. The International team is comprised of golfers from outside the U.S. and Europe. The Presidents Cup is run by the PGA Tour. The location alternates between golf courses in the United States and those in international locations.

The Presidents Cup was first played in 1994, created by the PGA Tour as a showcase event for tour players.

It was modeled in part after the Ryder Cup, which pits Team USA against Team Europe. Many PGA Tour players are not from either continent, however, and the Presidents Cup was created, in part, to give those golfers (those from Asia, Australia, Canada, etc.) a chance to play in a high-profile team format.

The scoring format is match play.

2019 Presidents Cup

This will be the third time that Royal Melbourne has served as tournament site. It previously hosted in 1998 and 2011, and 1998 is the only Presidents Cup, so far, won by the International side.

Presidents Cup Format

The Presidents Cup format involves four days of play, using foursomes, fourball and singles match play, with 30 matches total taking place:

  • Day 1: Five foursomes or five fourball matches. The home team captain decides which format is in use.
  • Day 2: Five matches of either foursomes or fourball, whichever format was not played on Day 1.
  • Day 3: Four four-ball matches and four foursomes matches, one format played in a morning session and the other in the afternoon session.
  • Day 4: Twelve singles matches wrap up the Presidents Cup schedule.

Each match is worth one point to the winning side.

If a fourball or foursomes match is all square after 18 holes, the match is halved and a half-point is given to each side. At the end of the competition, a team must have earned 15.5 points (out of 30 available) or more to win the cup.

Presidents Cup Results: All the Final Scores

This chart shows the final scores of every Presidents Cup tournament played to date, along with the location of match. In the 11 tournaments played so far, Team USA has nine wins, Team International has one win, and there has been one tie.

2017USA 19, International 11Liberty National, New Jersey
2015USA 15.5, International 14.5Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea
2013USA 18.5, International 15.5Muirfield Village, Ohio
2011USA 19, International 15Royal Melbourne, Australia
2009USA 19.5, International 14.5Harding Park, California
2007USA 19.5, International 14.5Royal Montreal, Canada
2005USA 18.5, International 15.5RTJ Golf Club, Virginia
2003USA 17, International 17, tieFancourt CC, South Africa
1998International 20.5, USA 11.5Royal Melbourne, Australia
1996USA 16.5, International 15.5RTJ Golf Club, Virginia
1994USA 20, International 12RTJ Golf Club, Virginia

Presidents Cup Team Captains

This is the list of golfer who have served as team captains at each tournament (including at future events if such captains have been announced).

2019Ernie ElsTiger Woods
2017Nick PriceSteve Stricker
2015Nick PriceJay Haas
2013Nick PriceFred Couples
2011Greg NormanFred Couples
2009Greg NormanFred Couples
2007Gary PlayerJack Nicklaus
2005Gary PlayerJack Nicklaus
2003Gary PlayerJack Nicklaus
2000Peter ThomsonKen Venturi
1998Peter ThomsonJack Nicklaus
1996Peter ThomsonArnold Palmer
1994David GrahamHale Irwin

Jack Nicklaus has served most often as a Presidents Cup captain, four times. Four other golfers—Peter Thomson, Gary Player, Fred Couples and Nick Price—were three-time captains.

How Golfers are Selected for Presidents Cup Teams

Both teams in the Presidents Cup are automatically filled by 10 golfers from the teams' respective point lists, with another two players per side chosen by the respective team captains. Team USA's automatic qualifiers are based on FedEx Cup points; the International side's automatic qualifiers are chosen based on world ranking points.

See the Team USA points or International points lists for the current player rankings.

What Happens If the Teams are Tied at End of Play

If the International and USA teams finish a Presidents Cup tied, with the same amount of points, then the two teams share the Presidents Cup until the next competition. Unlike at the Ryder Cup, the team that held the cup entering does not retain it. The teams share ownership of the cup until the next tournament.

This precedent was established in 2003 when the teams finished tied. At that time, however, a tiebreaker was called for. After three holes of sudden-death play between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to settle the tie, darkness halted play. Team captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus then agreed to call the match a tie and the teams co-champions.

Future Sites of the Presidents Cup

  • 2019: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia
  • 2021: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 2023: TBA
  • 2025: Harding Park, San Francisco, Calif.