International captain in waiting Ernie Els has called for sweeping changes before the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne after a “slaughtering” at the hands of an American dream team mercifully ended in New Jersey today.
The Internationals arrived at Liberty National in New Jersey seeking just their second win in the biennial teams event since its inaugural edition in 1994, but were hammered 19-11 by the Americans.
But only a bold International effort to win the singles session 7.5-4.5 staved off a record defeat as the US clinched a seventh consecutive Cup.
“It was a bit of a slaughtering. But we’ve got to stand up, take our arse-whipping like men and walk out with our heads high,” said eight-time International representative Adam Scott.
Tipped to succeed Nick Price as International captain, South African great Els called for an overhaul of “logistics, scheduling, selection process (and) course set-up” for the next instalment at Royal Melbourne in December 2019.
“The Presidents Cup is owned by the (US) PGA Tour, but we have to be more in control,” said Els, the course record-holder at Royal Melbourne’s Composite Course.
“There’s got to be a two-way street; we just want to be treated fairly.”
Els said the selection criteria for the International team, comprising the top-10 players on the world rankings excluding those from Europe and Great Britain, badly needed attention.
The US team is filled by the top-10 players on a rolling, two-year tally of FedEx Cup points, before both teams use two captains’ picks.
This year, all 12 American players were ranked inside the world’s top 30, compared to six for the visitors, and four of the Americans are within the top 10.
“Maybe we should have our own selection process; picking six guys and six guys qualifiers … instead of being dictated by the Tour,” said Els.
Scott said playing an annual team event benefits the Americans, who also face off against Europe in the higher-profile Ryder Cup.
“Playing together every year; they are getting good at it. They have found a system and they are winning,” Scott said.
“We need more practice of team play. The (Internationals) are really going to have to invest more in this as a group collectively (during) the `off year’.
“This (defeat) is on the cards (again) unless we really get our acts together.”
American assistant captain Tiger Woods concurred: “The (US players) have already played junior golf, college golf and the early part of their pro career together. It was very simple for us to put the team together,” Woods said.
Australian world No.7 Jason Day says a star-studded American side will only get better.
“I don’t know if they’re the best (team ever), but they will be in years to come. They’re only going to get better,” Day said.
Marc Leishman was the first player out today, but with no wiggle room at all, his halved match with Kevin Chappell at the top of the order gave the US the half-point it needed to keep the trophy.
Leishman trailed through the front nine, but twice went 1-up late before a bogey on the 17th enabled Chappell to square the match which was duly halved a hole later.
Day had a rollercoaster clash with Charley Hoffman in the second match out, eventually taking out the veteran American 2&1 with a par up the 17th hole.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama took out the red-hot Justin Thomas 3&1 in the next match out, but Daniel Berger secured the winning point with a 2&1 victory over Korean Si Woo Kim.
Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen won their respective matches 1-up and their fellow South African Branden Grace played a great match with world No.1 Dustin Johnson all the way to a halved point on a tense 18th hole.
Scott was twice 2-down to Brooks Koepka before finally finding better touch on the back nine to win four holes in a row and salute 3&2 against the US Open champion.
Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas capped an impressive week on debut, taking down Jordan Spieth 2&1 and then Indian Anirban Lahiri fought super hard to halve his match with Kevin Kisner.
But the cream on the American cake was provided by good mates Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in the final matches, comfortably taking out Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo to pad the final margin again.
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Els: We need Presidents Cup control