Captain Price begins another journey


Harare –  The 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge tees off in three weeks’ time but, for Nick Price, this is the time to plot how the world’s finest golfers, outside Europe, can find a way to beat the best of the Americans in the Presidents Cup next year.

The historic 2015 Presidents Cup will make its maiden trip to Asia when it is held at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in South Korea, the fifth time the tournament will be played outside the United States, having been staged in Melbourne (twice), South Africa and Canada.

The Americans have dominated the Presidents Cup, winning eight of the last 10 tournaments, and Zimbabwe golf legend, Price, a former world number one and three-time Major winner, was the captain of the International Team when they slumped to their last defeat.

A number of those players, who played for the International Team in a losing cause against the Americans last year, will be in action in Africa’s Major, the Nedbank Golf Challenge, which tees off at Sun City from December 4-7 this year.

Price won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1997 and 1998, having first won Africa’s Major in 1993 during a golden spell when he was the number one player in the world, while his countryman, Mark McNulty, also won the same tournament in 1986.

Zimbabwean golfers, just like the country’s cricketers and tennis players, have left their mark on sport in the world and none has made a bigger impression than Price who will once again lead the International team in their battle against the Americans next year.

The International Team has been waiting for 16 years, for their first win in the President’s Cup, and that’s exactly the same time that has elapsed since Price won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, the last time a Zimbabwean golfer won the tournament.

Price has been globe-trotting, of late, on official Presidents Cup duty, even though the next tournament won’t tee off until October 6, 2015, in South Korea, with organisers saying that the event is projected to be screened in more than one billion homes, in 30 different languages, and 225 countries, around the world.

The Zimbabwe golf legend, who says it’s an honour to be given the chance to lead the International team again next year, has noted that building a competitive team drawn around players from around the world, who play on different tours, has been the team’s Achilles Heel but he has plans to make it very competitive once again.

Drawing players from the far-flung corners of the globe and trying to build a team just days before the Presidents Cup has been a factor in the Internationals` poor record in the event, but 2015 captain Nick Price has a few tricks up his sleeve to change things around.

“In 2012 I made a concerted effort to go out and meet all the players in the 15 months preceding the event and started talking to them,” Price told a news conference in Incheon, South Korea, where the country’s President, Park Gean-hye, accepted the offer to be the honorary chairperson of The Presidents Cup 2015.

“Especially the veterans, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Jason Day, guys who had played in multiple Presidents Cups, and asked them what they felt was lacking. Or what was going to be the best way for us to motivate the team and get them fired up to play against the Americans in America.

“The unusual thing was that the only time we were all in the same room together for the first time was on the Monday before the event.

“But the cohesiveness of that team, and the morale and team spirit was so evident in that first meeting, they were so keen and had the mindset that this was going to be the one that we were going to turn it around

“What happened over the next five, six days can only be surmised by saying: `That`s golf. I don`t know how best to explain it. Those guys played their hearts out, they played their tails off, did everything they possibly could on the course to stop the Americans from winning again. But we lost.”

Price, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003, is certainly not a loser and doesn’t want to lead another team that will come short when the battle against the Americans, who were beaten by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup this year, explodes.

The Zimbabwean is intent on assembling a team that will not only compete but also end the Americans’ dominance on the tournament.

“So it leaves me in a bit of a dilemma as to how to approach the 2015 Presidents Cup,” said Price.

“I think I`m going to do a lot of the same things — travel and spend time and have dinners with them. There`s a lot of work ahead of us, coming up with a team that can take on the might of America.

“But I have a few tricks up my sleeve this year.”

November 2014
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