2022 Presidents Cup: Why the numbers love the U.S. Team this week

2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, Team USA,(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, Team USA,(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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The status of the U.S. team as the prohibitive favorite in this week’s Presidents Cup matches at Quail Hollow isn’t just a matter of history. Nor is it merely a matter of LIV Tour defections.

Statistically, the American team is just vastly superior to the cobbled-together Internationals.

A look at the numbers from the recently concluded PGA Tour season confirms the overwhelming statistical superiority of the U.S. talent base.

The numbers strongly favor the U.S. Presidents Cup team

The top three, and seven of the top eight, players in this week’s competition – based on Strokes Gained data from the 2021-22 season — will be playing for the U.S. team at the Presidents Cup.

By those same numbers, eight of the nine weakest – will compete for the International Presidents Cup team.

That doesn’t sound like a fair fight, which is why it likely won’t be.

The statistical analysis that follows is based on Strokes Gained data for the 2021-22 season. In each case, the standard deviation of the player’s performance in the four major Strokes Gained categories – Off the Tee, Approaching the Green, Around the Green, and putting – has been adjusted to reflect the relationship between those categories and scoring average on Tour.

For 2021-22, those adjustments are as follows: Off The Tee (.547), Approaching the Green (.686), Around the Green (.467), Putting (.391).

The players are ranked based on the adjusted standard deviation for the sum of those four categories.

One player, the Internationals’ Tom Kim, did not complete enough PGA Tour rounds this past season to be rated.

For each of the four major Strokes Gained categories, here’s how the teams stack up.

Presidents Cup, Quail Hollow, 2022 Presidents Cup, U.S. Presidents Cup Team, International Presidents Cup Team
Corey Conners, BMW Championship, Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Off The Tee (.547)

Although we think of power off the tee as a quintessential U.S. team advantage, it is actually the Internationals’ strength. Three of the four most efficient drivers of the golf ball in the Presidents Cup competition will play for the Internationals.

Statistically the top dog, however, is an American. At (.914) Strokes Gained, Cameron Young ranked second on Tour this past season, behind only Jon Rahm.

That separated him from the Tour average by a decided margin of 2.455 standard deviations, which at the (.547) relationship of tee play to scoring works out to a value of 1.343.

The next three best, however, are Corey Conners, Sungjae Im, and Taylor Pendrith, all of them Internationals.

Eight of the 24 players in the Presidents Cup finished 2021-22 with a Strokes Gained: Off The Tee score that was at least one full standard deviation superior to the Tour average. Beyond Young, those eight were:

  • Conners, 1.854
  • Im, 1.716
  • Pendrith, 1.548
  • Tony Finau, 1,413
  • Justin Thomas, 1.399
  • Patrick Cantlay, 1.365
  • Max Homa, 1.081

Only two of the 24 competitors registered negative Strokes Gained scores for the season, those being International Christiaan Bezuidenhout and American Kevin Kisner.

Despite the Internationals’ superiority at the top, the U.S. team’s depth provides it with the overall advantage in the driving game.

Adjusted for importance, the average standard deviation of the 12 Americans is (.496) strokes better than the Tour average; the Internationals only get to (.421).