Team International comes to Dublin, Ohio for the 2013 Presidents Cup as the underdog to the heavily favored, packed US Team. But like Tim The Tool Man Taylor used to say on the TV show Home Improvement, “back the truck up”. I don’t think they can ambush Team USA like the Euros did at Medinah last year, but I wouldn’t let my guard down on this talented team of underdogs.
Seven of the twelve players on the International Team are “First Timers” to the Presidents Cup, and are somewhat new to this format. Even Louis Oosthuizen who has a major championship on his resume, is a first timer to this event, and to make matters worse, is coming off a long layoff from competitive golf.
The 2010 Open Champ was able to scrape some rust off of his game at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship in Scotland. He didn’t fare well at Carnoustie, but was able to shoot two rounds in the 60′s at Kingsbarns and St. Andrews before he missed the final round cut on Sunday. Oosthuizen will more than likely be paired with his buddy, and Presidents Cup veteran, Charl Schwartzel.
The on-course veteran leadership is somewhat thin for Captain Nick Price’s team. Ernie Els is obviously his most experienced competitor. In eight previous appearances, The Big Easy is 17-16-2, and has made 18 of 20 cuts at the Memorial with six top ten finishes that include a win at Muirfield Village in 2004.
The big question I have, is how much leadership will Team International get from Angel Cabrera. In four trips to the Presidents Cup, Cabrera is 4-6-3 overall and is 2-0-1 in singles competition. It would be nice to see Cabrera take on a leadership role, and maybe take some of the little known rookies under his wing, like Hideki Matsuyama, and maybe a Graham DeLaet.
Branden Grace, and Richard Sterne will obviously get some leadership from fellow South African players, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, and Oosthuizen, but what about Brendon de Jonge? His only country tie is Captain, Nick Price. He is the only other person from Zimbabwe on the team.
Veterans, Adam Scott and Jason Day, from Australia will take care of mentoring newcomer, Marc Leishman. Marc Leishman is a Captains Pick, but has earned his position on this team. Leishman picked up a T 4 at Augusta in April, but in five starts at Muirfield Village, he has yet to crack the top 40.
Team USA should handle this line-up with ease, but I am sure that on Saturday night, they are going to get an earful from the press about what happened at Medinah last year. I think a lot of what happened at Medinah last September came on the inexperience of Captain Davis Love III, and the inability of Jim Furyk, and Steve Stricker to make a putt. Jim Furyk is not at Muirfield Village, and Steve Stricker seems to be back on top of his game, so a Saturday Night lead appears to be safe.
I spend a lot of time in the spring watching European Tour golf, and in particular, the Sunshine Tour. I can tell you, the South Africans are the key to any chance Team Internationl has. If Nick Price can get some early wins out of his South African rooks, who knows? Maybe he can get his underdogs to win a Presidents Cup. Where is Ian Poulter?
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