Power Rankings: All 24 Presidents Cup competitors

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Every year or two, conversation over who belongs on golf's Mount Rushmore is rekindled. Invariably, Jack Nicklaus is the first and most popular choice, so it stands to reason that the Presidents Cup is contested on a course that the Hall of Famer created.

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Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, hosts the 10th edition of the biennial competition pitting 12 of the best from the United States against counterparts from all other countries outside Europe. The latter dozen is often referred to as the Internationals or the Rest of the World. Perhaps all of the time, they are best known as the underdogs.

The U.S. owns a 7-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup, its only defeat occurring at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia in 1998. In direct response to history, International captain Nick Price lobbied, albeit unsuccessfully, for a modified format resulting in fewer matches to help even the competition. Instead, 34 points remain at stake. Any foursomes and four-ball matches tied after 18 holes will award one-half of one point to both teams. Singles matches will be played until a full point is allocated. If the competition is knotted at 17, the two squads will share the Presidents Cup until reconvening at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in 2015.

While that Nicklaus design is relatively new (circa 2010), Muirfield Village is a familiar stop on the PGA TOUR. It's hosted the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance since 1976. Of the 24 competitors at this Presidents Cup, all but Hideki Matsuyama have played in the Memorial at least once. Members of the U.S. have made an aggregate 88 starts to the Internationals' 57, of which 20 belong to Ernie Els. So, while the Americans can check off history and a home game on their list of advantages, the breadth of course knowledge tilts their way, too.

Factors such as momentum and timely matchups can fuel the team game inside the ropes and help provide balance for the Internationals, but Price will be saddled with the nuance of pairing teammates from six countries in addition to the goal of uncovering sensible pairings founded in skill sets, personalities and whatever other dynamic he finds valuable. On the other side of the ledger, arguably the most difficult task for U.S. skipper Fred Couples is to ease in his four first-timers. Yet, Price is burdened with seven rookies.

Regardless of the format on any day, Muirfield Village is relatively open off the tee. That caters to an aggressive game plan, especially since loss of hole is the worst that can happen before the next tee ball. However, with a scoring average of 73.256, this week's host was the most difficult of 18 par 72s used in non-majors during the 2013 season, so it's not like eagles and birdies will win every hole. The par-4 14th hole has been reduced by 38 yards so that it can play at a drivable 325 yards. It's going to see more action than the par-4 18th, which has been extended 40 yards (to a hearty 484 yards) thanks to the addition of a back tee. Overall, the course lists at 7,354 yards with just the two major wrinkles.

What may be the last surge of summertime weather will extend into Friday as daytime highs will creep into the upper 70s. A system will then pass through, bringing with it precipitation and potentially cooler temperatures on the weekend. The impact of wind cannot be ruled out.

The lineup below take into account individual talent, experience in team competition and recent form. Since pairings are not known in advance, many offer angles at what kind of teammate makes sense, at least in one writer's opinion.

Power Rankings: Presidents Cup
Rank Player   Comment
Zach JOHNSON Zach JOHNSON Top 10s in seven of his last eight starts, including a win at Conway Farms. Just 4-5-0 in two appearances, but 3-1-0 in foursomes. Forged competitive bond with Dufner at 2012 Ryder Cup. One top 10 at Memorial (T2, 2006).
Keegan BRADLEY Keegan BRADLEY First-timer and America's energy source. Just missed making the squad in 2011 but went 3-1-0 at 2012 Ryder Cup (all three wins with Mickelson). Bradley is 1-for-3 at Memorial (T50, 2013), but he has no weaknesses in his bag.
Adam SCOTT Adam SCOTT Led Internationals in qualifying. With this edition, will have played in each of last six; 10-13-2 record. Look for pairing with Leishman for whom Scott has tremendous amount of respect. Scott is 7-for-8 at Memorial with two top 10s.
Jason DAY Jason DAY Went 1-3-1 in his debut in 2011 -- only win was in four-ball with Aaron Baddeley -- but as a local resident in a state where he found his wife, he offers the Internationals an emotional attachment. No top 25s in five starts in Memorial.
Phil MICKELSON Phil MICKELSON Only competitor to play every Presidents Cup; 18-14-10 record We'll likely see him paired with Bradley -- they went 3-0-0 at 2012 Ryder Cup -- but Spieth offers another electric sideman. Mickelson is 10-for-13 (two top fives) at the Memorial.
Hunter MAHAN Hunter MAHAN Fourth appearance. Combined with two Ryder Cups, he's 6-2-2 in foursomes, an expected slate given his sharpshooter reputation. Kuchar, Snedeker and Stricker are logical partners. Mahan is 5-for-7 (four top 20s) at the Memorial.
Tiger WOODS Tiger WOODS The 2013 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Eighth appearance. Owns the most wins (10) in foursomes in Presidents Cup history. Expect familiar pairings. All-time earnings leader at the Memorial where he's 14-for-14 with five victories.
Jason DUFNER Jason DUFNER First-timer. It'd be an upset if he wasn't paired with Bradley at least once as the duo ranks among the best in Twitter trash-talking, but Dufner and ZJ went 2-0-0 in foursomes at 2012 Ryder Cup. Dufner is 0-for-2 at Memorial.
Graham DeLAET Graham DeLAET First-timer. Henrik Stenson earned attention for ball-striking during FedExCup Playoffs, but DeLaet led TOUR in total driving and ranked third in GIR. A pairing with Cabrera could be sneaky. DeLaet placed T21 at 2013 Memorial.
Charl SCHWARTZEL Charl SCHWARTZEL Impressive 3-1-1 as Presidents Cup rookie in 2011, but both partners (Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen) didn't make it back. Partnership with friend Oosthuizen seems imminent. Schwartzel is 6-for-6 with one top 10 at the Memorial.
Jordan SPIETH Jordan SPIETH First-timer; Captain's Pick. PGA TOUR's Rookie of the Year. Co-led with nine top 10s. Can't imagine teammates turning down partnership, and likewise. Expect leadership-type to take him under a wing. One start at Memorial (T63, 2013).
Ernie ELS Ernie ELS Internationals' elder statesman in eighth appearance (17-16-2). Partners have been many, but we'll likely see him next to Grace, who is a product of Els' golf academy. Els is 18-for-20 at Memorial with six top 10s, including the 2004 title.
Webb SIMPSON Webb SIMPSON Captain's Pick in his second appearance. After formidable partnership with Bubba Watson in last two team competitions, could start anew with fellow Wake Forest product Haas. Simpson's only top 45 at Memorial was a T7 in 2011.
Brandt SNEDEKER Brandt SNEDEKER First-timer. Also 0-for-6 at Memorial. Backed up 2012 FedExCup championship with two wins, two seconds and nine top 10s overall. Went 1-2-1 as Ryder Cup rookie in 2012. Stricker said that Snedeker is best putter he ever saw.
Hideki MATSUYAMA Hideki MATSUYAMA First-timer. The Internationals' version of Jordan Spieth. Two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur champ (a stroke-play event). Getting his first competitive look at Muirfield Village. A wildcard in terms of finding a suitable partner.
Angel CABRERA Angel CABRERA Back for a fourth time. Just 4-6-3 overall, but 2-0-1 in singles. Battled wrist injury late this season after inspiring run from April-July. Pairings with DeLaet and Matsuyama may make sense. One cut made at Memorial (T22, 2011).
Brendon de JONGE Brendon de JONGE First-timer and Captain's Pick. Shares Zimbabwean heritage with his captain. de Jonge is a machine but hasn't broken through for victory on the PGA TOUR. Best finish in four starts at the Memorial is T12 in 2010.
Branden GRACE Branden GRACE First-timer. Placed T25 at the 2012 Memorial. It's been one year since he recorded his most recent victory (his fifth of 2012), but he's registered six top 10s since, including a T3 at the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
Matt KUCHAR Matt KUCHAR The irony is that the winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play is an aggregate 0-3-0 in singles in two Ryder Cups and 2011 Presidents Cup. Picked off his second win of 2013 at, you guessed it, Muirfield Village (five straight top 10s).
Bill HAAS Bill HAAS In his debut in 2011, got beat up (1-3-0) despite America's four-point win. Co-led the PGA TOUR this season with nine top 10s but finished no better than T20 in his last six starts. One top 10 (T4, 2013) in six starts at the Memorial.
Marc LEISHMAN Marc LEISHMAN First-timer. Commanded the stage at the Masters en route to a T4. As a captain's pick this week, matches with fellow Aussies are probable, particularly Masters champ Scott. Leishman hasn't cracked top 40 in five starts at the Memorial.
Steve STRICKER Steve STRICKER Battled injuries all season but logged eight top 10s, four for second place. He's 11-8-0 in four appearances; 12-for-13 at the Memorial with one top 10 (win, 2011). Could pair with most, but went 0-3-0 with Woods at 2012 Ryder Cup.
Louis OOSTHUIZEN Louis OOSTHUIZEN First-timer. In return to competition, missed cut by four strokes at Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but made only two bogeys on his last 45 holes. Pairing with Schwartzel is likely. Missed cut in only Memorial start (2012).
Richard STERNE Richard STERNE First-timer. Only 18 starts in 2013, but won once, posted two seconds and added five top 15s, including a T9 at Volvo World Match Play Championship. Placed T36 in only start in Memorial (2009). Teaming with Els is rational.
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