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2022 Presidents Cup: These sleepers can emerge as heroes for US, international teams in Quail Hollow

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You know the names by now: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama. But what about those who have not yet made a name for themselves? In total, the 2022 Presidents Cup will feature 14 rookies, including six for the United States and eight for the internationals.

While some of those Americans include Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa, who were influential in America’s beating of the Europeans at the 2021 Ryder Cup, this week still marks their first experience in the Presidents Cup. Just a year ago, Scheffler was considered a borderline roster for Whistling Straits by Captain Steve Stricker. The Wisconsin native’s choice proved to be a wise one, as Scheffler played a key role in the league by dethroning Jon Rahm in singles. He would later become No. 1 in the OWGR, a position he still holds.

Something similar may be on the horizon this time around for Davis Love III or Trevor Immelman and one of the members of their team. Quail Hollow Club could be a launch pad for some of the youngest stars in the game, or even a veteran, and the team environment will be conducive to big moments.

In 2019 Abraham Ancer and Sungjae Im proved to be up to the task for the international side. Each amassed 3.5 points at Royal Melbourne and nearly led the international team to a dramatic victory over the Tiger Woods-led Americans. The internationals are once again faced with tough opportunities and will need more than a few fresh faces to perform if they are expected to pull off the unthinkable.

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Chances for top scorer are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbooks

Potential Unlikely Heroes for the United States

Tony Finau (12-1 to become top scorer): He may be one of the oldest members of the team and has a lot of experience having played in three previous team events, but Finau has been treated as an elite player thus far. The world No. 14, who won twice in the late summer, nearly added another at the St. Jude Championship, taking his total win to five in the blink of an eye.

He made an impression on his 2018 Ryder Cup debut at Le National, where Finau, while surpassing the US, took a 2-1-0 record, including a 6&4 defeat to Tommy Fleetwood on Sunday. Influential in Royal Melbourne and Wisconsin, the 33-year-old will serve as a major cog in Charlotte, with Quail Hollow statistically right up his alley.

Sam Burns (12-1): Burns, a three-time winner during the 2021-22 season, has previously performed well in team competitions. Alongside Billy Horschel, the SEC duo finished second at the Zurich Classic ahead of American teammates Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay. Despite this being his first Presidents Cup, Burns hardly feels like a rookie.

They will likely be paired up with Horschel, but the two will be a tough out as they can run as hot as anyone on the greens. When not paired with Horschel, his good friend Scheffler could make an ideal partner, as the laid-back, easygoing nature of each is ideal for the high-pressure, chaotic environment that will engulf Quail Hollow.

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Cameron Young (18-1): Of all Presidents Cup players, Young has been second only to Scheffler for hitting off the tee in the past three months. The presumed Rookie of the Year is known for finishing one spot short as he took seven podium finishes during his 2021-22 season, including the PGA Championship and The Open.

Young is a perfect fit for Quail Hollow and his ability to take the opportunity would serve him well. He seems to be playing with the ultimate chip on his shoulder, and if he is able to channel this silent killer mentality into the team environment, it could just be the start of a fruitful Presidents Cup career.

Potential unlikely heroes for internationals

Corey Conners (28-1): The internationals are in a hole before even a tee is pinned into the ground. They have to rely on some of their known quantities without the depth of the US team including Conners. The Canadian may be technically a rookie, but his ball strikes could give Americans a headache.

Conners, second in running accuracy and sixth in strokes closer in the past three months, is one of the few players on par with the Americans in this area. He often struggles on and around the green, but we’ve seen bad putters like Sergio Garcia thrive in this arena. Perhaps the same goes for Conners.

Taylor Pendrith (55-1): The second of the Canadians to Captain Immelman, Pendrith could be a star in the making. Pendrith returned from injury in the middle of the summer, taking six top-15 finishes in his last eight tournaments, including Finau’s second appearance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

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Pendrith is extremely far from the tee — third in this field — and has the firepower to dismantle the American side. As with Conners, the putter can pose problems, but when strategically combined with Tom Kim or Christiaan Bezuidenhout, those concerns can be allayed.

K.H. Lee (70-1): The sexiest golfer in the world has quickly become one of the best golfers in the world. Lee successfully defended his Byron Nelson title last season, looking Americans Spieth, Thomas and Schauffele — and even his own teammate Matsuyama — in the eye on his way to his second PGA Tour win.

The moment is never too great for Lee; that was seen in the FedEx Cup Playoffs as he made his way to the Tour Championship via a T5 finish in the BMW Championship. He ranks sixth in wells won, and while the results weren’t memorable at Quail Hollow, he put in some strong rounds, including a 5-under 66 to kick off the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship.

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