All the Presidents Cup Battles
Harare – Five of South Africa’s finest golfers, with a little bit of help from Zimbabwe’s top golfer, three Australians, a Japanese and a Canadian go head-to-head against the best that America can offer, including world number one Tiger Woods, in the Presidents Cup this weekend.
The 12 men on the International Team, led by iconic Zimbabwean golfer Nick Price, are representing the world ‑ save for Europe, against the cream of the United States’ golf machine in a shootout for a trophy that has no prize money but a lot of honour for those who win it.
Adam Scott, the Australian who won the Masters at Augusta National in Georgia earlier this year, is the best golfer in the International Team that will battle the Americans on their home turf at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
There are two other Australians in the team, Jason Day and Marc Leishman, while South Africa offers the biggest contingent of golfers with five coming from a Rainbow Nation that has embraced the International Team as its own team.
Regular adverts have been flighted on SuperSport during the past week urging golf fans, in particular, and South Africans, in general, to support the International Team in their tough duel against the American elite golfers.
Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Grace and Richard Sterne are the five South African golfers in the International Team and will be joined by Hudeki Matsuyama of Japan, Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Graham DeLaet of Cadana while Price has chosen Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe and Leishman of Australia as his Captain’s Picks.
Price’s decision to pick De Jonge, who was named Zimbabwe’s Sportsperson of the Year in 2012, means that half of the golfers in the International Team are from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Three-time Major winner, Price, who was the world’s number one golfer during his golden spell in 1994, has been explaining his decision to pick his fellow countryman, De Jonge, ahead of a host of other golfers for the final 12-man squad.
“I’m in Hawaii for the Champions Tour’s Pacific Links Hawaii Championship and it feels like the hardest part of The Presidents Cup International Team captaincy is over,” Price said on his personal blog recently.
“Making my two picks was a difficult task. I looked at a lot of statistics leading up to the announcement on September 4, and I ended up choosing Marc Leishman from Australia and my fellow Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge.
“Marc is a guy on the rise who has played really well this year. He’s performed well in the Majors this year with a top-10 finish at Augusta as well as a T8 at The Players Championship.
“I think he’s going to feel very much a part of the team with fellow Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day there to support him. I’ve watched Brendon closely over the past four or five years. He’s 33 and just getting ready to break through.
“Being a part of the International Team may be a terrific moment for him during his career. He’s a wonderful guy and will be great in the team room.
“Both Marc and Brendon fade the ball and they both hit it pretty far, and those are two key factors to playing well at Muirfield Village. Brendon’s form, particularly over the last five or six months, has been really consistent.
“I spoke to a lot of the International Team members leading up to my announcement of Marc and Brendon as my picks and just about every single one of them felt that Brendon deserved a pick. After that, we had to figure out who the other pick was going to be.”
But, as in such drafts, there would be omissions that would trigger a lot of debate and Price left out Tim Clark, a veteran of three battles for the International Team, against the United States in 2003, 2005 and 2009.
The 33-year-old Clark, who won the Players Championship in 2010, would have been the six South African golfer if he had made the team. “Leaving Tim Clark off the team was extremely difficult for me,” said Price on his blog.
“I had confided a lot in Tim over the last year or so and I honestly felt he was going to make the team, however he hadn’t played at Muirfield Village much over the last seven or eight years and his lack of length off the tee was a negative against him.
“It was probably the hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make in my life to tell Tim he wasn’t on the team.
“Experience-wise, he was the one guy who I knew would bring a lot to the team, but to be honest, both Marc and Brendon have played better golf over the last two months.”
Price expects a tough contest although the Americans, led by Woods, will certainly start as favourites to win the contest.
“The Ohio and Columbus golf fans have always welcomed the PGA TOUR with open arms, and they will be treated to some wonderful golf at The Presidents Cup,” said Price.
“I’m sure the Americans will have a lot of support from the fans but seeing that most of the International Team members play in the United States full-time, we will have plenty of supporters too.
“For most of us international players, 95 percent of our golf is played outside our homelands and we are used to fans rooting for the home players.
“Everything is falling into place, and the International Team is ready to get to Columbus. As many of us know, 18-hole match play is very unpredictable and anything can happen. It’s all about momentum and team spirit. It’s about the competition and winning the Cup.”
The other members of the American team are Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Duffner, Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan. Zach Johnson, Swebb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.