The International team is a large underdog in the Presidents Cup, but the US team has more than enough distractions to give bettors pause. The biennial competition, which begins Thursday (Wednesday in US) at Royal Melbourne in Australia, pits 12 members of each squad against one another in both team and individual events.

Presidents Cup Captains Tiger Woods and Ernie Els
The Presidents Cup will feature the US team, captained by Tiger Woods, and the International team, captained by Ernie Els. (Image: PGA Tour)

Since the event’s inception in 1994, the US team has dominated the Presidents Cup, winning it 10 of 12 times. The two teams tied in 2003, and the International team won in 1998 when it was played at the same golf course as this year’s competition.

The US team is -275 to win the Presidents Cup for the 11th time. The International team is at +275, and captain Ernie Els told reporters on Monday he believes his team has embraced the underdog role.

“We talked about that,” Els said. “You know, we are doing this thing as a team. I’ve got a young team and so forth, as we did back in ’98, and at the end of the day, it’s 18 holes of match play. We’ve seen what can happen.”

Plenty of Distractions for Woods at Presidents Cup

One of the biggest questions is how Tiger Woods will balance his role as the US team’s captain, and as a player. Woods named himself to the squad with one of his four captain’s picks. He told reporters on Monday that he will put “team first,” and will get plenty of help from assistant captains Fred Couples, Zach Johnson, and Steve Stricker.

“Whatever we deem as the best possible order for our team, that’s what we’re going to run with,” Woods said.

The US team left on a charter flight from the Bahamas, where everyone but Dustin Johnson played in the Hero World Challenge. The flight was 26 hours, and Woods said the players need to get acclimated to being in Australia.

“Today is an important day for us to just walk and to stretch our legs a bit,” Woods said. “Getting in yesterday after a 26-hour ride in a luxurious tin can, it’s nice to actually get out there and feel some fresh air.”

Woods Forced to Address Reed Controversy

One distraction Woods definitely doesn’t need as he prepares his team for the Presidents Cup is Patrick Reed. The 2018 Masters winner found himself in a controversy last weekend at the Hero World Challenge, and the repercussions could resonate this week.

Reed was assessed a two-stroke penalty after finishing his third round at the Hero World Challenge on Friday when the Golf Channel broadcast caught Reed blatantly hitting the sand with his club twice during a practice swing in the bunker on No. 11.

He tried to explain the rules infraction away, saying that it was a bad camera angle. Some of his fellow professionals weren’t compassionate to his plight. International team member Cameron Smith flat out called Reed a cheater.

“I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone (on the American team) next week,”

Oddsmakers have even made a prop bet on Reed. BetOnline has a prop on “Will Patrick Reed Be Penalized for Cheating?” The yes is +2000, while the no is the favorite at -25000.

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