It’s no exaggeration to say that many of the world’s best male golfers—and all of America’s best—will be in Jersey City next week. They’ll be competing for four days, starting September 28, at Liberty National Golf Club in a premier event, the Presidents Cup.
The four-day tournament pits a team of 12 top U.S. golfers against a similarly stellar group of international professionals. It’s a rare opportunity for the players—including Americans Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, and international stars Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Jason Day and Adam Scott of Australia, and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen—to compete in a team setting. (The format is similar to and inspired by the Ryder Cup, in which a U.S. team faces off against a European lineup.)
“The Presidents Cup is unique because it’s team match play,” says tournament executive director Matt Kamienski. “Golf is inherently an individual sport, so it’s a pretty unique thing both to the fans and to the players, because they become teammates with the guys they may be battling on a weekly basis.”
The Presidents Cup is also unique because the players don’t take home a single penny for their efforts. Rather, they donate all of the tournament earnings to charities of their choice. Through the first 11 editions of the biennial tournament, $38.4 million has been donated to more than 450 charities in 15 countries, says Kamienski.
The PGA Tour launched the Presidents Cup in 1994. It is played every other year; since 1998, it has alternated between U.S. and international venues. This will be the first visit to Liberty National, a private course carved out of a neglected stretch of Jersey City waterfront and opened in July 2006.
The location, says Kamienski, is “spectacular. You can’t find a better view of the Manhattan skyline.”
The competition should be spectacular as well. In the match-play format, Kamienski explains, “every hole is its own little match.” Win the hole and your team wins a point. “It’s fun for the fans,” Kamienski continues, “because every hole really matters.”
For the tournament, the organizers have rerouted the course to start at the 5th hole. “It’s arguably the toughest tee shot on the course,” says Kamienski. “There’s water on your left and a very narrow landing area. It’s a long par 4.”
To highlight the opening hole, the organizers installed a 1,300-seat grandstand around the tee box. “In team match play, that’s where the drama starts to unfold,” Kamienski says. “It’ll be pretty electric.”
For spectators, Kamienski also recommends the 10th hole (normally the 14th), a 150-yard par 3 with “unbelievable views of the Statue of Liberty.”
Fans can purchase tickets for the Tuesday and Wednesday practice rounds ($50) and all four days of the tournament ($115-$140). Team matches will be played Thursday through Saturday; Sunday will feature 12 singles matches.
Among the golf fans expected to attend is President Donald Trump, the event’s honorary chair. In keeping with the tournament’s name, the leader of the host country serves as chair each year.
Competitors will include fan favorite Phil Mickelson, 47—the only golfer to have appeared in every Presidents Cup (on the U.S. team, of course).
The U.S. team has dominated the Presidents Cup, winning nine of the 11 meetings. Still, Kamienski says the competition “has been closer than it looks on paper.” And, he warns, the international team “is hungry.”
Here are the players:
U.S. TEAM – Captain Steve Stricker
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Jordan Spieth
3. Justin Thomas
4. Rickie Fowler
5. Daniel Berger
6. Brooks Koepka
7. Kevin Kisner
8. Patrick Reed
9. Matt Kuchar
10. Kevin Chappell
11. Phil Mickelson *Captains Pick
12. Charley Hoffman *Captains Pick
INTERNATIONAL TEAM – Captain Nick Price
1. Hideki Matsuyama – Japan
2. Jason Day – Australia
3. Adam Scott – Australia
4. Louis Oosthuizen – South Africa
5. Marc Leishman – Australia
6. Charl Schwartzel – South Africa
7. Branden Grace – South Africa
8. Si Woo Kim – South Korea
9. Jhonattan Vegas – Venezuela
10. Adam Hadwin – Canada
11. Emiliano Grillo – Argentina *Captains Pick
12. Anirban Lahiri – India *Captains Pick