Jason Day has missed automatic qualifying for the International team at the Presidents Cup and is now reliant upon captain Ernie Els for a spot on the 12-player team to compete with the United States at Royal Melbourne in December.
But Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith have all qualified as part of the top eight on the points standings that were confirmed this morning, and Day is a virtual-certainty to win selection as the fourth Australian once Els makes his four discretionary selections in a few weeks’ time.
The Queenslander ended up ninth in the standings, which are drawn from Fedex Cup points scored over the previous 12 months. Day has represented the International team in the past four Presidents Cup competitions.
Among the first-timers in the International team are Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, the 2018 Emirates Australian Open champion, Queenslander Smith, Taipei’s CT Pan and China’s Haotong Li.
The International team’s bridgehead is with veterans Leishman, Scott, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.
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Els is looking to Leishman, the No. 1 ranked International, for leadership.
No International team has won since 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the only instance of a US defeat in 12 playings of the Presidents Cup teams competition. The USA dominated the last contest at Liberty National in New Jersey two years ago, winning 19-11.
The competition is from December 12-15 at Royal Melbourne’s composite course, which previously hosted the Presidents Cup in 1998 and 2011.
USA No. 1 Brooks Koepka has talked up the occasion as he prepares for his first-ever visit to Australia.
“I’ve heard a lot about it from guys like Tiger (Woods), Phil (Mickelson), these guys have talked about unbelievable the place is,” he told SEN radio. “Australia’s always been on my bucket list of places of I wanted to go. I‘ve been around the world; just never been there. It’ll be nice to knock it off the bucket list and play some golf while doing it.”
Another American team member, Matt Kuchar, said the US players were excited to play under Tiger Woods’ captaincy for the first time. “I’ve got a feeling he’s going to be a great captain.”
Woods did not make the top eight who qualify for the Americans but can select himself if he so desires. He finished tied-37th in the BMW Championship at Medinah today and ranked No. 6 in the world, his selection is plainly justified so long as his health is good.
But we will not know until the four captain’s choices are made a few weeks hence.
“This is the core of the team,'' said Woods. "These guys have earned it. They've proven that they belong on the team,” said Woods. “You've got some veterans, whether it's Webby, Kuch or Dustin, who have been part of the teams for a very long time, and we have some newcomers. We have a nice mix.
“It's a younger team, and that's what we want to see. We want to see a little turnover and get the younger guys playing on these teams because they're going to be a part of it for a very long time going forward. Really, I can’t wait to get some of these young guys down to Royal Melbourne to experience golf in the sandbelt region and get to experience how much the fans love and appreciate sports and golf in that area of the world.”
PRESIDENTS CUP AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS
INTERNATIONAL: Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Abraham Ancer, Haotong Li, Cameron Smith, CT Pan.
USA: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau.