Captain’s Blog – 3 October

04 Oct

It’s wonderful to provide an update now that my first eight International Team members have been confirmed for the Presidents Cup.

I’m so thrilled with the makeup of our team thus far. We have a great mix of veteran leadership and young talent that will make for a formidable team at Royal Melbourne. I look forward to sharing what I have already learned about a few of our newcomers in the coming months. Abraham Ancer, C.T. Pan, Haotong Li and Cameron Smith are all terrific young players and are very deserving of this opportunity. They have also aided in the diversity of our team, which I think is very important.

It’s special to have players on the team who come from such different regions like Chinese Taipei, Mexico and China that have never been represented in the Presidents Cup before. This will bring new people from the world that will be watching us for the first time. From that point of view, this is a unique Presidents Cup because we’re going to have potentially a billion more people watching this Presidents Cup just because of the different regions we’re all from.

For someone like Abraham who won the Aussie Open last year, he understands the Australian culture of golf. I know how much he wants it. He’s a real steely player and someone I look forward to watching compete.

I’ve played with Haotong many times and had a front row seat to his beautiful 63 at The Open two years ago that nearly won him the tournament. He’s got all the qualities of a world-class player and maybe become No. 1 in the world one day. He’s that kind of talent.

C.T. is another rookie with so much potential. Overall, he’s got a very sound game. He manages his game very well and I can see him being a great partner to a lot of players. And then finally with Cameron, I was able to see him team up with Leish at the World Cup of Golf at Metropolitan where they finished runner up. Their games seem to mesh very well, so we will certainly look at them as a potential pairing.

While I’m excited for those players who get to experience the excitement of a Presidents Cup for the first time, our veteran leadership is going to be a key to our success.

Scottie, Louis, Leish and Hideki all know what it takes to succeed in the Presidents Cup, and I’m very pleased with how they will contribute to the foundation of this team.

Specifically with Scottie, he’s in the position to have a leading role. During our team meetings, I’ve asked Scottie every single time to say something to the players. He’s got so much to give. He’s playing in his ninth straight Presidents Cup, so he’s the most capped player in the history of the Cup now, but he’s got a lot to go and it’s great to see him playing well again. We will be leaning on Scottie in a big way, but more than anything, I want him to have a good week.

Scottie was a rookie in 2003, and I kind of took him under my wing in South Africa, and we had some success down there in the team formats playing together and really bonded as two players can. And I know Scottie has that in his mind, to get this team bonded the way we’ve got it done a couple of times.

With this being such a unique year having the Presidents Cup played in December, I’ve stressed in our team meetings that they’ve got to try and be prepared and have every part of their game at championship level. It will also help that our team will have a nice representation at the Australian Open. Quite a few guys have committed from what I’ve heard, and with Abraham Ancer as the defending champion it will hopefully add to the buzz for the Presidents Cup.

I’ve also imparted as much wisdom and knowledge about Royal Melbourne as I can. I’ve talked to them about how I feel the golf course flows, how I feel the best way to attack the course. I’ve tried to tell them about the Australian conditions which can be fast, a little windy and quite warm. That’s why short game is very important around Australian golf courses, especially Melbourne.

I’m going to give them even more information in the weeks ahead. I’ve got all kinds of different plans to show them how each and every hole should be played, the way I think we can get the best out of it, and then we’ll take it from there.

And while I expect to have a solid game plan heading into the week, we can’t expect to walk out of there with the Cup without the support from the Australian public in Melbourne. I think it’s very important that the crowd understand that their home team for the matches is the International side, and I think the Australians on the team will play a huge role in getting the crowd behind us.

As we look toward rounding out the team with the four picks in early November, it’s going to be huge for us to pick the right players to join the team, and my job is already gotten tougher due to how well some of the guys have played as of late. A nice problem to have!

Joaquin Niemann’s win at The Greenbrier was only a matter of time. He’s just an immense young talent who has a successful career ahead of him. And then to be followed up by Sebastian Muñoz is just a testament to the growth of golf down in Latin America.

Sungjae Im is another who has shown a lot of consistency this past year and capped it off with Rookie of the Year honors on the PGA TOUR. He played 34 events last season and has seen his form continue with a runner-up finish two weeks ago. Several players from Korea have my attention including Ben An, Sung Kang and Si Woo Kim, who competed on the 2017 team.

Even Adam Hadwin, another 2017 team member, was back in contention this past weekend at the Safeway Open.

As for Jason Day, we’d have loved to have seen him qualify in the top eight, but he is always going to be on the list of guys we’re going to look at for the top 12. He didn’t have a year like we’re used to seeing from him, but we’ve still got a long way to go. I plan on checking in with him frequently and look forward to watching him compete in the coming weeks.

At the end of the day, I want to look at rookies who are showing a lot of promise and then guys who have had wins in the past. I will also speak to the eight guys on the team. We’re going to have several discussions because these four players will need to help this team blend even further.

Needless to say, we have a critical month ahead of us as we prepare to round out the International Team.

We’re counting on the Australian public in Melbourne to have a great turnout. Remember to buy your tickets on www.presidentscup.com. December will be upon us before we know it.

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