Nineteen-year veteran looper Matt Minster will take part in his second ever team event at the 2019 Presidents Cup.
After looping the 2015 Presidents Cup in South Korea for one of the country’s native stars in Sangmoon Bae, Minister returns to these biennial matches on the bag for Patrick Cantlay and he’ll soon get his first experience on the U.S. side.
“I’m looking forward to it a ton,” Minister said. “It’s strange. When I caddied for Sangmoon Bae in my first one in 2015, you know I feel different about it than I did then.”
What seems different this time?
“Some of it’s excitement and some of it is a little bit of being anxious, not knowing what to expect being on the U.S. team that you’ve always watched for the last 25 years that they’ve been playing this thing, so now I get to be a part of it,” Minister said. “It’s getting me a little anxious to be honest, but in a good way.”
Minister’s been a pretty diehard follower of these events over the past two-plus decades and says he would try to watch the entire Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups when they were were on TV.
“But it got harder when I had kids and other responsibilities,” Minister said. “I grew up watching the teams with Fred Couples, Davis Love and Raymond Floyd.”
Of course, with Ernie Els and Tiger Woods as this year’s captains, he remembers their showdown at the end of the the 2003 Presidents Cup at Fancourt in South Africa, which ended in both teams sharing the Cup.
So, Minister says he’s feeling a little anxiety about this event. Wouldn’t anyone who’s about to embark on a 20-plus hour trip halfway around the world feel a bit anxious about an event with some unknowns in the cards? Sure. But the Ohio State alum has a plan to enjoy the flight: Watch his alma mater in the Big 10 Championship game.
“One part of my Presidents Cup week will be hopefully trying to stream the Big 10 Championship game on that flight down to Royal Melbourne on Saturday night,” Minister said.
One wonders how confident he should be about getting a strong enough internet connection.
“I didn’t ask (about the connection), I thought that would be asking for a little too much,” Minister joked. “They’re flying us down there, so I figured that’s enough. Just keep my fingers crossed. Hopefully there will be decent WiFi.”
2015 Presidents Cup
In 2015, Minister got as dramatic a finish as he could have asked for when the Presidents Cup came down to the final anchor match between Bae and U.S. captain Jay Haas’ son, Bill.
Minister feels that when fans recall that match, they remember Bae was there in his home country and that he didn’t get that final point, and that he missed a chip shot on 18.
“He was 1 down and he had to make that chip shot, let alone if he tied Bill, Bill had a reasonable up and down for birdie so we had to win that hole to halve,” Minister said.
“And that’s kind of lost in people’s memory. It’s more like Sangmoon screwed the 18th hole up because he didn’t hit a good chip and we ended up losing the match. But I don’t view it that way. He tried his very best to hit a great second shot to try and make eagle and win the match and he left himself with an impossible chip.”
Minister still remembers some additionally positive aspect of the week in Incheon, South Korea.
“I remember that week very fondly,” he said. “Nick Price, who I worked for for 6 1/2 years, was the captain and I really enjoyed woking for Sangmoon because he was a good spirit to be around and he was a good player. So, it was a really fun week.”
Minister learned a very important element from those matches that he may utilize at these matches if in the same situation.
“I recall being really nervous and we didn’t play the first matches, which I was a little surprised with Sangmoon being a Korean,” Minister said. “I recall being nervous even though I wasn’t even going to go caddie. I went out and watched and that got rid of a lot of it. Even though I didn’t have to hit a shot, I was really nervous for everybody. So going out and walking that first day then the second day felt more normal. I was able to do my normal gig that I do for whoever I’m working for.”
And doing things in a normal fashion when they’re in the thick of the matches is one of Minister’s big keys for the week.
“You just go through the same motions that you would always go through,” Minister said.
Stick to what you know it would appear.
“Basically, If you act like it’s something different, then he’s going to see it and he’s going to look at me like, ‘what? Are you nervous?’” Minister said.
Thankfully, Minister has some experience caddying at Royal Melbourne during the World Cup in 2014 for Bae.
“So I’ve been to the course, I’ve told Patrick some of the things I recall about it and some of the things that I like about the golf course. I think he’s excited to see it and to make his own opinions,” Minister said.
This stage figures to offer a big moment for Cantlay to show his impressive game, something he’s done consistently all season.
The 27-year-old beat arguably the International’s best player — Adam Scott — at the Memorial by two shots this June in Minister’s backyard of Dublin, Ohio.
Then Cantlay nearly nabbed the Shriners title in Vegas (Minister felt they had a “great opportunity” there) just over a month ago before Kevin Na took it with some unbelievable putting in their playoff.
And in the 2019 majors, Cantlay — who had yet to finish inside the top 20 before this year — grabbed a T9 at the Masters and a big T3 at the PGA Championship at Bethpage.
“I don’t think for him much will change (at Presidents Cup), he’s very steady and plays such a high-quality way that I think, you hear about the pressure of team events, it will be interesting to see how that affects him — if it affects him at all. I don’t think it will. He’s a solid mental player.”
And in matchplay, you need mental strength.
The conditions of the course will play a big factor in the matches as well, Minister believes.
“If the golf course is really hard and fast these guys will have a real test in front of them, which I think will make great theater for a matchplay event,” he said.
Family watching from home
For Minister’s wife, Julie, and kids Dylan and Sean, they will have to watch the matches at home in Jupiter in primetime with the 16-hour time difference to Melbourne.
“The two boys are in middle school and it’s just too much to take them away from that and my wife is going to be at home taking care of them,” Minister said. “Unfortunately they won’t be there, but they’ll watch. My youngest (Sean) really likes golf so I’d imagine he’ll watch a little bit.”
The biggest highlight
“Memorial is one of the highlights of my entire golfing career,” Minister said. “Without a doubt (our win) at Memorial is one of the things I’ll remember until the day I die.”
Minister grew up in Worthington which is right next to Dublin. “I grew up 20 minutes from Muirfield Village,” he said.
The 45-year-old’s mother still lives that close to the course and Minister knows there are so many sentimental memories that forever make that spot a special one.
Wouldn’t that be an incredibly emotional accomplishment for any of us?
“To win where I grew up, I went there when I was 7 asking for autographs and getting Jack Nicklaus’ golf ball,” he said. “That’s it for me. Of course, you’d love to compete for majors and possibly win one and that would trump it in the end, but as far as this year’s concerned — that’s it.”