Jason Day, who finally reached the world No1 slot last month only to hand it back to Jordan Spieth a week later, has promised to try to lead by example when the International team set out to defeat the USA in South Korea this week for what would be only the second time in Presidents Cup history.
Nick Price will captain the side who take on the eight-times winners at the Jack Nicklaus club in Incheon over four days from Thursday, and Australia’s US PGA champion is the only top-10 player under his charge. The USA have five of them, and all 12 of their team are inside the world’s top 30.
The overall points available have been reduced from 34 to 30 this time round, with the stipulation that everyone plays twice prior to the 12 singles matches. The change follows lobbying by Price to try to make the match more competitive after five losses for the Internationals in a row, and he is hopeful that their lack of depth will not be as exposed as it has been. The only loss for the USA came at Royal Melbourne in 1998, though the 2003 match at the Fancourt club in South Africa finished in a tie.
“I know I will have to play my best and so will all of the boys if we are going to be successful,” said Day, who has played in the match twice previously. “We have managed to get a deduction in overall points this time so hopefully that will mean it is competitive going into the Sunday singles. If we can get there with a chance I know the boys are going to be fired up to finally get our hands on that trophy.”
Adam Scott and Marc Leishman join the world No2 in the side along with the captain’s pick Steven Bowditch, who makes it four Australians in all. Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace make up the South African contingent while Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the New Zealander Danny Lee, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Anirban Lahiri of India and Sangmoon Bae of South Korea, the second wildcard pick, complete Price’s dozen.
Scott has played in the past six Presidents Cups but Schwartzel is the only man on the side with a winning record in the competition. Leishman, Matsuyama, Oosthuizen and Grace return after being part of the 2013 defeat while Bowditch, Lee, Jaidee, Lahiri and Bae make their debuts.
The USA include Spieth, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson from the world’s top 10. JB Holmes has been called up to replace the world No9 Jim Furyk, who picked up a wrist injury in the FedEx Cup playoffs and is recuperating. Phil Mickelson, who played his first Presidents Cup in 1994, keeps up his 100% appearance record thanks to a wildcard from the captain, Jay Haas, who also selected his son Bill, the world No29.
“There is no doubt their team is stacked with talent,” Day added. “But we don’t mind being the underdog. We need to find a way to be energised, motivated and at our best if we are to rattle them.”
Play starts on Thursday with five foursomes matches and there will be five fourballs played on Friday. Saturday features four foursomes in the morning and four fourballs in the afternoon before Sunday sees all 12 players contesting singles.
“The absolute perfect scenario would be Jordan and Jason playing in the final group coming down the 18th hole with the whole thing tied up,” Price said. “Could you imagine how great that would be for the Presidents Cup? This one needs to be competed closely. It needs to come down to the wire.”
USA (*signifies wilcard picks) Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar ,Chris Kirk, JB Holmes, Bill Haas*, Phil Mickelson*
International Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman, Anirban Lahiri, Charl Schwartzel, Thongchai Jaidee, Danny Lee, Steven Bowditch*, Sangmoon Bae*
This article was written by Mark Tallentire and agencies, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 6th October 2015 12.42 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010