Presidents Cup Matchup Betting Picks: Which Americans Are on Upset Watch?
Butch Dill, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Hideki Matsuyama
The opening four-ball matches for the Presidents Cup are now set.
No huge surprises for U.S. captain Tiger Woods, who’s shown his cards over the past week. He puts himself in the first match alongside Justin Thomas, while benching Matt Kuchar and late addition Rickie Fowler.
His counterpart Ernie Els similarly has some solid tandems, though with considerably less firepower than the opponent. He’s decided to leave Haotong Li and, in perhaps a surprising move, Aussie’s own Cameron Smith out for the first day.
Let’s break down the five best-ball matches:
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Team International: Marc Leishman/Joaquin Niemann (+145) vs. Team USA: Justin Thomas/Tiger Woods (-245)
It should come as no shock that Woods is paired with Thomas, nor should it be a surprise they’re in the first group, as the captain will undoubtedly want to assess the other matches upon completion. (In fact, Tiger in the opening group should be a standard strategy throughout the week.)
Els goes with perhaps his strongest pairing – and he rightfully uses Leishman, an Aussie, to help get the home crowds pumped up right away. If there’s a criticism here, it’s that perhaps the International captain could’ve paired him with Scott, using two of his big guns right off the bat, but sending the galleries into an immediate tizzy.
As it is, the Tiger/JT pairing is a dream tandem in this format; expect them to prevail.
The pick: USA
Team International: Adam Hadwin/Sungjae Im (+125) vs. Team USA: Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (-167)
It was a slight surprise that Woods decided to break up the Zurich Classic pairing of Cantlay and Patrick Reed, however he and Schauffele are rookies in name only and clearly two of the more talented players in the world, not just on this team. Hadwin and Im should make for an unsinkable duo that won’t have too many unforced errors.
Against almost any other U.S. tandem, they’d be difficult to pick against, but there’s honestly not a single team Els could’ve produced that would be the favorite versus these two. This one should go down to the wire, but Shauffele and Cantlay won’t lose.
The pick: USA
More Presidents Cup Coverage:
- Perry: My 2 Favorite Bets at the 2019 Presidents Cup
- Sobel: 10 Burning Questions for Bettors at Royal Melbourne
- How Will Patrick Reed Handle the Villain Role Down Under?
- Sobel: Tiger Woods Should Call His Own Number This Weekend
Team International: Adam Scott/Byeong Hun An (-114) vs. Team USA: Bryson DeChambeau/Tony Finau (-114)
This one is all about the first name of the four. Scott has never been a rah-rah type of guy and tends not to show his emotions inside the ropes, but this will be a big moment for him. Not sure many would’ve predicted An, a late addition to the roster for Jason Day, as his partner here, but he’s a very good ball-striker who’s been trending in the right direction.
Can’t say the same for the U.S. duo here. The team’s new Incredible Bulk, DeChambeau, insists he’s quickly matching up his new frame to his game, but he’s yet to prove it, while Finau has left plenty to be desired recently.
Throw in the fact that these guys just don’t seem like a natural fit and the advantage clearly goes to the home side.
The pick: International
Team International: Hideki Matsuyama/C.T. Pan (+120) vs. Team USA: Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed (-162)
You knew we were going to see Reed in this format – and Woods did a nice job of sort of hiding him down in the lineup. The fans should be ruthless toward the man some accused of cheating last week, but remember: Reed thrives in this type of environment. With an unnatural partner in Simpson – there couldn’t be two more disparate personalities in the U.S. team room – this U.S. tandem might’ve been ripe for an upset against any other opponents, but this could be a 2-on-1 affair.
Matsuyama is always solid, however Pan hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in six months and only once has been inside the top-50 in his last six starts. A short-and-steady type, Pan’s game seems a better fit for alternate shot, so it’s a bit of a shock he gets the call in this format. Had this been Li instead, the pick might’ve gone the other way.
The pick: USA
Team International: Abraham Ancer/Louis Oosthuizen (+105) vs. Team USA: Dustin Johnson/Gary Woodland (-137)
The initial thought from most observers will be this: The U.S. has teamed two of its biggest offensive weapons in a format that calls for offense. And that isn’t wrong. There’s some potential for DJ and Woodland to mash low stingers all over Royal Melbourne and birdie everything they see. But let’s not overlook this International duo.
Oosthuizen has been playing very well lately, including a runner-up finish at the Aussie Open last week. Meanwhile, Ancer has enjoyed success of his own Down Under, having won that event last year. This could be a breakout week for the man from Mexico, who’s much better than most people realize. Throw in the fact that Johnson is coming off a knee injury that prevented him from playing last week and should be rusty, and this one has all the makings of a home team upset.
The pick: International