What Happens If the Presidents Cup Ends in a Tie?

All the matches are over at the USA-vs.-International golf competition called the Presidents Cup, and the score is tied, 15 points to 15 points. What happens? In the Presidents Cup, unlike at the Ryder Cup, a tie really is a tie, and the two sides are co-champions and share the cup until the next competition in two years.

Difference Between Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup In Case of Tie

In the Ryder Cup (a USA-vs.-Europe match), when the tournament ends in a tie score (14 to 14, in this case), the team holding the cup entering that tournament keeps it for another two years. The team that does not have the cup entering the tournament has to win outright in order to claim that trophy.

Not so at the Presidents Cup. When the Presidents Cup ends and the score is tied, Team USA and Team International are declared co-winners. There is no losing side. The side the held the cup entering the tournament does not retain sole possession of of it. It has to share.

As we stated at the top, at the Presidents Cup a tie really is a tie: co-champions sharing possession of the cup.

The Presidents Cup Used to Break the Tie, But Changed the Rule

There has been only one tie (so far) in Presidents Cup history. In 2003, the tournament ended in a deadlock. But at that time, there was a rule in place to break the tie: Each captain picked one of his players, and those two players proceeded into a sudden-death playoff. When one of those players won a hole, that broke the tie and decided the winning team.

At the 2003 Presidents Cup, the captains were Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and the golfers who went into the sudden-death playoff were Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

What a setup for excitement, and there was lots of excitement. Woods and Els matched pars on the first hole ... then again on the second. On the third playoff hole, the two superstars matched each other again.

By that point, they were playing in near darkness. If this had been a sudden-death playoff at a regular PGA Tour stop, it would have been halted at that point and the players would have returned the next morning to finish it.

But there was no precedent at the Presidents Cup for this situation. The two captains each huddled with their teams, then huddled with each other. What the golfers told their captains was that they did not want to hang around another day. After all, it wasn't just the Woods and Els who'd have to stay an extra day: this was a team tournament, and all 24 golfers would have to stay.

What Nicklaus and Player decided, and what their players agreed to, was to simply call it a tie — no winner, no loser, with the two teams sharing the cup (as co-holders of the Presidents Cup) until the 2005 matches arrived.

In the aftermath of that event, the PGA Tour (which runs the Presidents Cup), listening to the captains and players involved, decided to do away with the sudden-death playoff. In the future, any ties at the tournament would simply result in co-champions.

And that remains the rule today.

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