Ernie’s Latest News – 19 August

19 Aug

So, the big news this week is the Presidents Cup Top-8 qualifiers have been announced. Huge congrats guys. Great to have you all on board!

Marc Leishman: Marc has been the most consistent player on our team. Being Australian, it’s going to be a big week for him. I think he can take a leading role. He’s played quite a few of these now and he can give a lot of knowledge to my players. He’s definitely going to be one of my leader group guys.

Hideki Matsuyama: Hideki is a great and talented player. This will be his fourth Presidents Cup and he’s going to be very familiar with what it’s all about. He’s not been on a winning team, we came close in Muirfield and Korea so I can see him being very keen to win. He’s had a few close run-ins with the U.S. Team, so he’ll be ready to fight. His character is that he’s a winner. He’s won some of the big events that we have out here. He takes it very seriously.

Louis Oosthuizen: Louis is just so solid as a player. He’s a team guy and I can’t ask for a better player to be on this team. He’s got a great sense of humour and he can keep the guys loose. Everything you can think of in a team environment, that’s Louis. He loves the competition. He loves getting up for it and he’s great in a team format.

Adam Scott: I remember playing with Adam in his very first one in 2003 and he’s been on every team since then. He’s really stepped up to the plate to make this team. He was not in the team when qualifying started but he’s played himself into the team. He’s very vocal and very much up for it. With all the new stuff that I’ve brought into the team, he’s really bought into it and it gives me confidence to keep steering the team ahead. He’s the pillar of this team.

Abraham Ancer: Winning the Aussie Open, he understands the Australian culture of golf. I know how much he wants it. A real steely player. I played  with him at The Open a few weeks ago, he drove it well and he’s a really good, solid player all round and someone I’m happy to have on the team.

Haotong Li: Haotong is a strong player and he’s got a great game. I’ve played with him many times and at The Open two years ago where he nearly won with a 63 in the final round. 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. I like his style of play and he’ll be great in the team environment. He’s quite a lively character and he’s quite outspoken in a confident way. He’ll carry his weight in the team room very well. Good putter, and on his day, he can go as low as anybody. I am really excited to have him on the team.

C.T. Pan: CT is a newcomer and we’ll do our homework to get him comfortable in the team environment and get him the right partner. Overall, he’s got a very sound game. He manages his game very well and he’s a good putter. As a rookie and a person from Chinese Taipei, it’s a big deal.

Cameron Smith: Cameron is very solid. With Marc Leishman last year, they played good at the World Cup of Golf. He’s very familiar with the golf course and surroundings and I’m looking for him and the other Australians to have a good week. If they can, the fans will be really involved. Cameron is kind of the young star in Australia now and he can really make a difference for us. They will be one of the pairings which will come up automatically not only through the data that will show but through their World Cup performance which was phenomenal. We will look at them as a potential pairing, absolutely.

Summing up, this is as good as I could have asked for. I’ve got guys who have played in the Presidents Cup many times and I’ve got rookies. The guys who are pillars of our team have really stepped up to take their places in this team. I’m impressed how they’ve conducted themselves.

For the top eight, I think the one-year qualifying cycle has worked well. The guys knew they had to play well this season and they showed it. For instance, Adam Scott played himself right into this team. He was nowhere near when qualifying started and he’s played great since we started. Same with Louis Oosthuizen who stepped it up. They had a plan of trying to make this team and I’m happy they did.

Looking ahead, the captain’s four picks will be announced during the week commencing November 4. There’s been talk about me being a playing captain, but that isn’t happening. I want to be driving the ship, I want to be in the engine room and be there for the guys. It is hard to do that and also play golf.

We’re really going to work now with my analytics team. This kind of thing never really came into the equation back in the day, but it’s different now. We have in-depth stats and a process that we believe helps us match-up players. That’s why the captain’s four picks might not necessarily be the next players on the list; it’s more a case of selecting the next best four complimentary players to the eight that we already have. Then it’s about getting the guys to connect on a personality level. It’s a challenge for the Internationals to gel as a team when you’ve got multiple nations involved, but that’s been a major focus of ours these past 10 months, to help get everyone over the uncomfortable zone and feeling like a team. We’re happy with the prep we’ve done on that front and, of course, in the coming weeks and months our efforts only intensify.

Moving on, tournament-wise I’ve just returned from playing in the D&D Real Czech Masters in Prague. I want to thank the people of this beautiful city, and the sponsors, for the warm welcome and the wonderful hospitality. I would obviously have loved to play better, but that wasn’t to be.

Next up, we’ve got back-to-back tournaments in the UK, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth followed by the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. Two tournaments that I’m very familiar with, definitely two of my favourite stops on the European Tour. So with the new date for the BMW, moving from its old slot in May, that’s a nice little stretch to look forward to.

Before that, we’ve got a busy week ahead of us. I’ll be in action on Thursday competing in a charity shoot-out with Freddie Couples, Bernhard Langer and Retief Goosen at the Boeing Classic at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in Seattle. That should be a lot of fun and obviously you’re always happy to take part in an event that raises money for good causes.

Before that, I’ll be making an appearance at SuperZoo in Las Vegas on Tuesday, launching our new Pet Treats business. It’s an entirely new arena for me and I’m proud to be involved with the best in the business in the Florida Pet Treats company. It’s a great product and I love the idea that we can use my name to help give our four-legged foodies healthier, happier lives. Click here if you want to find out more and give your dog or cat a treat!

Okay, that’s it for now. You can follow me on all my social media channels following the links at the bottom of this page.

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