Weekly Recap: Presidents Cup Appraisal

Weekly Recap: Presidents Cup Appraisal

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

The United States won the Presidents Cup over the Internationals. No surprise there. But it wound up a much-closer-than-expected 17.5-12.5, especially considering the U.S. boat-raced their way to an 8-2 advantage after the first two rounds. 

You would think that just about every American shined, but that was far from the case. The point totals were heavily weighted among a handful of stars. For the Internationals, there ended up being some strong performances after the team was decimated by LIV defections. 

Even though the U.S. team now leads 12-1-1 in Presidents Cup history, there are some reasons to be optimistic for closer battles in the years ahead. Here now is a review of all 24 golfers, along with their record for the week and a letter grade.

UNITED STATES

Jordan Spieth (5-0-0)

Grade: A+

Spieth, along with Justin Thomas, is the unquestioned leader of the American team. He went a perfect 5-0 on the week, four of those wins coming alongside Thomas, including a tone-setting 6&5 foursomes thrashing of International titans Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott in the first match of the Cup. Spieth won a singles match for the first time ever in either the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup. It's almost unfathomable he hadn't won one before. He handled a gallant Cam Davis 4&3.

Max Homa (4-0-0)

Grade: A+

Homa spoke all season about reaching one of his career goals: representing his country in an international competition. He finally got his chance, and he smashed it.

The United States won the Presidents Cup over the Internationals. No surprise there. But it wound up a much-closer-than-expected 17.5-12.5, especially considering the U.S. boat-raced their way to an 8-2 advantage after the first two rounds. 

You would think that just about every American shined, but that was far from the case. The point totals were heavily weighted among a handful of stars. For the Internationals, there ended up being some strong performances after the team was decimated by LIV defections. 

Even though the U.S. team now leads 12-1-1 in Presidents Cup history, there are some reasons to be optimistic for closer battles in the years ahead. Here now is a review of all 24 golfers, along with their record for the week and a letter grade.

UNITED STATES

Jordan Spieth (5-0-0)

Grade: A+

Spieth, along with Justin Thomas, is the unquestioned leader of the American team. He went a perfect 5-0 on the week, four of those wins coming alongside Thomas, including a tone-setting 6&5 foursomes thrashing of International titans Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott in the first match of the Cup. Spieth won a singles match for the first time ever in either the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup. It's almost unfathomable he hadn't won one before. He handled a gallant Cam Davis 4&3.

Max Homa (4-0-0)

Grade: A+

Homa spoke all season about reaching one of his career goals: representing his country in an international competition. He finally got his chance, and he smashed it. He went a perfect 4-0. He won twice partnering with Tony Finau and once with Billy Horschel -- showing future U.S. captains how much of a Swiss army knife Homa can be. He then drew the toughest singles match of Sunday against burgeoning star Tom Kim and, after falling behind 3-up on the back-nine, roared back for a 1-up win. There might be no other player in the world whose arrow is pointing higher than Homa's is right now.

Justin Thomas (4-1-0)

Grade: A

Thomas could've had basically the same blurb as Spieth, except he stunningly lost in singles to Si Woo Kim, 1-up – that after owning a 2-up lead early on. With his fiery on-course demeanor, Thomas is an imposing figure. Even though he had a subpar 2021-22 season on Tour, there was little doubt he would be great this week, and he was.

Patrick Cantlay (3-1-0)

Grade: B+

Cantlay and Xander Schauffele played three times together and won twice. They are really 1 and 1-A in terms of dominating U.S. partnerships just behind Spieth-Thomas. Things might not have gotten a little dicey on Sunday if captain Davis Love had played Cantlay-Schauffele a fourth time on Saturday. In singles, Cantlay was very impressive, dominating one of the Internationals' big guns in Scott. Cantlay had at least a 2-up lead from the third hole on and wound up a 3&2 winner.

Xander Schauffele (3-1-0)

Grade: B

Schauffele sank the official Cup-winning putt in a 1-up win over Corey Conners. He didn't play well himself, so he was fortunate to face the Canadian, who was one of the worst golfers at Quail Hollow all week. As mentioned above, Schauffele and Cantlay are a formidable team poised to be a part of the annual Cups for years to come.

Tony Finau (3-1-0)

Grade: B

Finau teamed twice with Homa for foursomes wins, then lost alongside Kevin Kisner in four-ball. He won his singles match against Taylor Pendrith, who, while a very good young player, could not make a putt. But three points is three points and Finau had a good week.

Collin Morikawa (2-1-0)

Grade: C

Despite being a two-time major winner, Morikawa showed that he is merely middle of the pack on a loaded U.S. team. He played only three matches. He did team with Cameron Young on Thursday to defeat Tom Kim and K.H. Lee, which was his most impressive moment. Beating an overmatched Mito Pereira in singles was … fine.

Billy Horschel (1-2-0)

Grade: C-

At 35 years old, Horschel finally got a chance to play on a U.S. team. There's no certainty he gets another shot. He won a four-ball match, but he was paired with Homa and they faced the winless Canadians, Conners and Taylor Pendrith. And then Horschel lost to Lee in singles.

Cameron Young (1-2-1)

Grade: C-

The rookie came out on Thursday and won a foursomes match with Morikawa, and by Sunday it was apparent that that's why he had won the match – his partner. Young lost to Sungjae Im in singles. There was no way he should've played four matches, especially the way he was putting.

Sam Burns (0-3-2)

Grade: D

The consensus is that Burns played well, and that Scottie Scheffler didn't carry his weight in their three pairings. But Burns also lost with Horschel, and then he couldn't defeat a clearly off-his-game Matsuyama in singles -- they halved. As Bill Parcells famously said (paraphrasing): You are what your record is.

Kevin Kisner (0-2-1)

Grade: D

We hope everyone clamoring for Kisner to get into a match-play team competition has gotten that out of their system. He was on the team only because Will Zalatoris got injured. Kisner fell to Christian Bezuidenhout in singles. Even though it turned out to be meaningless, both golfers were trying to win.

Scottie Scheffler (0-3-1)

Grade: F

Scheffler was the first No. 1-ranked golfer to go winless in a Presidents Cup since Nick Price in the inaugural edition in 1994. He went 0-4-1. Yes, he and main partner Burns played better than their results indicated. But losing to Sebastian Munoz is singles cemented a horrible week for Scheffler.

INTERNATIONALS

Si Woo Kim (3-1-0)

Grade: A

We've witnessed the incredible talent through the years – see: 2017 PLAYERS Championship – but it hardly ever surfaces across four rounds. This week, it was on full display for four days. Kim and Davis got the Internationals' only point on Thursday, beating Scheffler and Burns in foursomes. It was a vital win for the team. Then Kim paired with Tom Kim on Saturday to stunningly take down the mighty Cantlay-Schauffele in four-ball. Then the biggest stunner – perhaps of the whole week -- was rallying past Thomas in singles.

Tom Kim (2-3-0)

Grade: B+

Kim won only two of five matches, but that doesn't begin to tell his story. He clearly is a charismatic and burgeoning star. He showed off his fiery self in winning a huge point late on Saturday to slay Cantlay-Schauffele in four-ball alongside Si Woo Kim. But he also showed his youth in being unable to hang on against Homa in singles when he had a 3-up lead on the back nine.
  
Sungjae Im (2-2-1)

Grade: B

Im is only 24, but he is already one of the unquestioned leaders of the International side. He didn't have the toughest opponents as he did three years ago when he went 3-0-1 by twice defeating the tandem of Cantlay-Schauffele. But the Internationals needed points any way they could get them, and Im delivered 2 ½, including a full point in singles against Young.

K.H. Lee (2-1-0)

Grade: B

Lee played only three matches and hindsight says he should've played at least one more. He teamed with Tom Kim in Saturday foursomes to upend Scheffler and Burns, then handled Horschel in singles with relative ease. Not the toughest of opponents, but you can only beat the guys against whom you're paired.

Sebastian Munoz (2-0-1)

Grade: B

Munoz teamed with Im in four-ball to halve with Scheffler-Burns and defeat Finau-Kisner. But he earns his B for whipping Scheffler in singles. As with Lee, hindsight says Munoz should've had another match.

Cam Davis (2-3-0)

Grade: C

Davis certainly appears to be an important piece of the International team for years to come. But he's not a 5-round player at this point. He did team with Si Woo Kim for an important Thursday foursomes win, and then kind of carried Scott in beating Burns and Horschel in four-ball. He then looked like he was going to steamroll Spieth in singles by getting out to an early lead but lost four straight holes on the back-nine and ended up a 4&3 loser.

Adam Scott (2-3-0)

Grade: C-

Scott won two of his four team matches, losing against tough Americans and beating the easier ones. That's not what captain Trevor Immelman expected or needed. Then Scott lost to Cantlay in singles in a 3&2 match that Cantlay led from the second hole on.

Hideki Matsuyama (1-3-1)

Grade: D

The Internationals needed Matsuyama to be a force and he wasn't even close. In the very first match on Thursday, he and Scott got blitzed, 6&5, by Cantlay-Schauffele, then lost to them again while paired with Tom Kim. 
 
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (1-0-1)

Grade: D

It may not seem fair to give the South African the same grade as the man he beat in singles in Kisner. But he played only one other match, and he obviously didn't earn captain Immelman's trust – even though he was a captain's pick and they are South African countryman. Australia's Lucas Herbert might've been a better choice. Of course, Bezuidenhout and others were on the team only because of all the LIV defections.

Mito Pereira (0-2-1)

Grade: D

If Pereira is LIV-bound, as has been strongly rumored, he did not go out on a high note. He lost to Morikawa rather handily in singles, 3&2. He did manage a half-point with Bezuidenhout in four-ball, but it was against only Kisner-Young.

Corey Conners (0-4-0)

Grade: F

Conners quite possibly could've been the worst player at Quail Hollow. After losing twice the first two days, we shouldn't have seen him at all on Saturday but we did. He lost to an off-his-game Schauffele in the Cup deciding singles match, compiling five bogeys and a double. It's hard to mask bad putting in match play.

Taylor Pendrith (0-4-0)

Grade: F

Pendrith showed his ball-striking skills late in the PGA Tour season. He also showed he couldn't putt. And that was on display this week. He lost when paired with three different guys -- Conners, Matsuyama and Pereira -- then fell in singles to Finau, 3&1.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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