Presidents Cup Day 3 Early Session Betting Picks: Does Team USA Have the Momentum?
Butch Dill, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Rickie Fowler
Here’s the thing about these international team events: Momentum is monstrous, but it’s fickle.
At one point during the second day’s foursomes session, it appeared the International team might take an overall lead as large as 9-1, as already the Americans were being blamed for unpreparedness, apathy and lethargy. A funny thing happened, though, on the way to a rout. The U.S. flipped two matches and halved a third, bringing the total score to a comparatively close 6.5-3.5 entering the weekend.
And all of a sudden, that momentum was flipped.
Saturday at Royal Melbourne will call for four early four-ball matches and four late foursomes matches. This is often an advantage for the International side, which traditionally isn’t as deep as its counterpart. This time, however, it might benefit Tiger and Co., as the red, white and blue can stick with the few hot hands currently in the lineup and hide the others, though the ice-cold duo of Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed will get another shot.
Let’s break down the four early four-ball matches (first tee at approximately 3 p.m. ET).
Odds as of Friday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Team International: Marc Leishman/Haotong Li (+165) vs. Team USA: Justin Thomas/Rickie Fowler (-115) | Draw: +500
Now in his third professional international competition repping the U.S., Thomas owns a 9-2-1 record, including a mic-drop putt on the final hole of his second-round foursomes match, punctuated by a lusty celebration with partner Woods. It’s fair to think that JT might pair with his buddy Fowler just as well as with the captain, which should make for a tough match for the opponents.
Leishman has been solid so far, but Li is the lone remaining player who’s yet to play a single match, a move which could backfire for the International side. Unless Li uses that snub as motivation and plays his best golf, expect an opening victory for the U.S. here.
The pick: USA
Team International: Sungjae Im/Abraham Ancer (+140) vs. Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (+100) | Draw: +550
Getcha popcorn ready! A quartet of absolute flushers in this one. We all knew about three of these guys, but Ancer might be the MVP of the International team so far.
The only mark against Im and him is that they’ve yet to play a single match together, while the U.S. duo will be playing their third as partners. That’s only a slight advantage, though. In reality, this should be a match featuring tons of well-struck approach shots and a bevy of birdies. For the first time all week, I’m firmly straddling the fence on this one.
The pick: Halve
Team International: Hideki Matsuyama/C.T. Pan (+125) vs. Team USA: Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed (+115) | Draw: +500
Here’s the public opinion on Reed right now: He should’ve been left at home, he’s embarrassing the game of golf in general and the U.S. team more specifically and he needed to be benched for this session.
And here’s the reality: Reed has actually outplayed Simpson, his partner for the first two matches, but certainly hasn’t done anything spectacular. That includes mimicking a shovel maneuver after a spectator chided him for last week’s cheating allegation. It all adds up to a bad look for Reed, who is now 1-4-0 in his last five matches for the U.S. team.
Entering this week, I felt like Pan could be a whipping boy for the Americans, but it’s starting to feel like karma that Reed continues losing. I’ll guess that Matsuyama puts his partner on his back and wins this in a tight one.
The pick: International
Team International: Adam Scott/Byeong Hun An (-105) vs. Team USA: Matt Kuchar/Tony Finau (+150) | Draw: +550
You know what they say in football: If you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback. I feel the same way about Kuchar and Finau, guys about whom Tiger has continually said, “They can play with anybody.” Really, though, intimating that a guy can play with anyone is possibly like saying he can’t play with anyone.
Much like the Simpson/Reed pairing, this one feels like a manufactured tandem that won’t really have any chemistry. Unlike at the Ryder Cup, chemistry is often to the U.S. team’s advantage in this event, but not here. Even from disparate backgrounds, Scott and An should play well again, as they beat Finau and Bryson DeChambeau in this format in the opening session.
The pick: International