COLUMBUS: Masters champion Adam Scott says the Internationals must beat the Americans to win the Presidents Cup golf matches for the first time in 15 years or lose any competitive credibility.
The 10th edition of the biennial showdown between United States and non-European squads begins Thursday at Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village with the Americans owning a 7-1-1 edge in the all-time rivalry.
“The Internationals need to step up and win the thing and make it a real competition,” Australia’s Scott said. “I’m getting tired of getting killed out there. This is a big year for us. It’s our time.”
Zimbabwe’s Nick Price will guide the global stars against an American lineup featuring Fred Couples as captain in the Ryder Cup-styled event, which features 11 foursomes (alternate shot) and 11 four-ball (better ball) matches over three days and 12 concluding singles matches on Sunday. US golfers won 19-15 in 2011 at Royal Melbourne -- the site of the lone Internationals victory back in 1998 -- for their fourth triumph in a row since a 17-17 draw at South Africa in 2003.
Scott, who last April became the first Aussie to win a green jacket at Augusta National, was on all five of those Internationals squads that walked away winless.
“I think it’s crucial. We have to win this year,” Scott said. “The Cup loses any credibility whatsoever if (the Internationals) don’t start winning soon.”
The Americans, not surprisingly, do not share Scott’s concern.
“We like the way it has gone and we would like to keep it going that way,” said world number one Tiger Woods.
“I think we have done really well in the Presidents Cup because generally we have a very deep team. You are playing four matches guaranteed and that has always suited us.”
The Internationals pitched a reduction in the number of pairs matches that would sit out more players but the idea was vetoed by US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
“There are a few occasions we did really well, but the US team is a lot stronger,” Price said. “The commissioner didn’t want to do anything about the changes for this year. We’re going to do the best we can with the given points structure.
“It’s going to be a tough job for us to win the Cup but I think we have got a really strong team right now.”
Couples sees the Americans’ Ryder Cup rivalry with Europe as an edge against the Internationals because it gives US players an annual test their rivals lack, although Europe has won five of the the past six Ryder Cups.
“We have an advantage because we play in the Ryder Cup,” Couples said. “At no time have I thought whether or team is going to win or lose or whether that would be good or bad for the Presidents Cup.”
US left-hander Phil Mickelson, the reigning British Open champion who will be the only man to play in all 10 Presidents Cups, says the all-time results are secondary.
“The tournament is about promoting the game of golf on an international level,” Mickelson said. “Who loses and by how much isn’t as important as having the guys get together in a competitive, friendly environment, put on a good show and have some fun doing it.”
The Internationals, however, are clearly in it to win it after years of frustration.
“I definitely would like to be on the other end of that and to contribute to a good win for the Internationals,” said Aussie Marc Leishman, a captain’s choice along with Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge.
Four-time major champion Ernie Els, making his eighth Presidents Cup start, leads a record five South Africans on the Internationals, joining compatriots Branden Grace, Richard Sterne, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who had been out since July with neck and back issues until last week.
Scott and Leishman are joined by fellow Aussie Jason Day with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Canada’s Graham DeLaet and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera also on the team. Woods and Mickelson lead a US lineup that also includes PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and captain’s choices Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.
Woods has won the Memorial, the PGA event played at Muirfield Village, five times while Els, Stricker and Kuchar have each won it once.
The Internationals have seven Cup newcomers and Day and Schwartzel with only one prior start. US rookies are Spieth, Dufner, Bradley and Snedeker.