Shadow of LIV Golf looms large over this week's Presidents Cup

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The biennial match play competition pits the best golfers from the United States against the best from the rest of world - save for Europe - but both teams have been impacted by the ongoing civil war between the new Saudi-backed breakaway tour and golf's traditional powers. LIV Golf, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, has been steadily poaching players from both the PGA and DP World Tours, luring some of the sport's biggest names with outrageously lucrative offers, and the tours have responded by either banning LIV Golf defectors from participating in their own events, as is the case with the PGA Tour, or trying to, as is the case with the DP World Tour. As a result, both Presidents Cup sides will be missing key players when play gets underway on Thursday.

The US team will not be able to call on major winners Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, while six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, a veteran of 12 Presidents Cups, will also play no part in the tournament - not even in a ceremonial or non-playing role.

However, so deep is the talent pool in the US, that American captain Davis Love III will still be able to call on three of the top five players in the world rankings - world number one Scottie Scheffler, number four Patrick Cantlay and number five Xander Schauffele.

The 12-man international team also has a number of LIV golfers who are ineligible, including world number three Cameron Smith, South African Louis Oosthuizen, Chile's Joaquin Niemann and Mexico's Abraham Ancer. With experienced replacements thin on the ground, International captain Trevor Immelman has been forced to call on no less than eight debutants, with Australian Adam Scott and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama the only two players in the team to have played in more than one event. The Internationals have just one victory in 13 previous Presidents Cups, and as a result of their LIV losses, will be considered heavy underdogs for the clash at Quail Hollow. "We'll be representing underdogs all over the world in every facet of life," conceded Immelman. "Whether it be business or sport or kids at school. "We look forward to the Presidents Cup every time. "Over the years you look at the history books, everybody knows we've had our butts kicked, but that doesn't mean we'll come with any less passion and compete to try and win."

The 2022 Presidents Cup starts on Thursday, September 22 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, and concludes on Sunday, September 25. Mirroring the format of the Ryder Cup, Thursday's program consists of five four-ball matches, followed by five foursome matches on Friday. Saturday has four morning fourball matches and four foursome matches in the afternoon. On Sunday, the final session consists of 12 singles matches where every player participates.

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