It's amazing that virtually the same American golfers that can't seem to get out of their own way against the European team in the biennial Ryder Cup routinely drill a team from the rest of world in virtually the same format in the alternate years. I haven't done an in-depth study of the match-ups and whether the Euros are that much stronger than the International teams, but I don't think it's that big a difference in talent level. The International squad has sported members Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Nick Price, KJ Choi, Greg Norman, Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott. Only Choi from that list has failed to win a major, although he has been a Players Championship winner.
There has been a lot of speculation why there is a difference in performance. After watching the President's Cup matches yesterday and the early action today, it occurred to me that the difference in formats between the two competitions is quite possibly a factor. In the Ryder Cup, the team competitions consist of only four matches, meaning that four players from each team sit in each session. It puts a lot more pressure on the captains and I think that trickles down to the players. It also means that until the singles, which the Americans tend to dominate in both competitions, you can pretty much hide a lack of depth in the Ryder Cup. Clearly, while the Euros are always strong at the top, there are times that their bottom three or four players come from outside the top 100 in the world. It doesn't do the Americans a lot of good to have the twentieth best player in world on the team when they end up sitting in a couple of matches. In the President's Cup, all the players participate in the first two team sessions, then two players from each team sit in the final two. In both formats, all players compete in the singles matches.
Who does the captain play, who does the captain sit and when does he do that? When every player knows they will be playing the first two days, I think it clearly frees them up to just go out and play. In the Ryder Cup, there is the added pressure of knowing that if they don't play well, the captain ca choose to sit them out the next session. There can just be so much more second guessing of the captains in the Ryder Cup, especially on the American side since they generally have a lot more depth.
Of course, the Ryder Cup attracts a lot more attention and the pressure to win it dwarfs that which is associated with the President's cup. However, I think the format differences are a factor in why the Americans have more success against the International squads.