MELBOURNE, Australia, Nov 19 – Every member of the Internationals team wants to take on Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup, with assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy suggesting Australians Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and former number one Jason Day are frontrunners.
Woods will be playing captain when he leads a star-studded United States against the Internationals skippered by Ernie Els in the biennial team match-play showdown at Royal Melbourne from December 12-15.
Australian Ogilvy, who played in three Presidents Cups, said all of the 12-man had put their hand up to face the 15-time major winner, but favoured one of his fellow Australians to take on Woods.
“Jason (Day) can clearly hang with Tiger and go down the stretch with him,” Ogilvy, who with Els was a member of the losing International team at Royal Melbourne in 2011, told the Melbourne Herald Sun.
“But Cam and Leish, they have really stood up the last couple of years and they are so bought into this. Cam is bouncing out of his skin. We have 12 great players, they all have a case.
“It depends on the situation of the match. It depends how the picks go too, we alternate, so Tiger could choose who he wants to play against. There’s no real control there.”
Woods will be the first playing captain since American Hale Irwin in the inaugural 1994 Presidents Cup after giving himself a wildcard following his record-equalling 82nd US PGA Tour title in Japan last month.
He spearheads a formidable team that features the three of the world’s top four golfers in number one Brooks Koepka, third-ranked Dustin Johnson and number four Justin Thomas.
Els has a relatively inexperienced team looking to win the event for only the second time in its 25-year history. Their sole win came at the same Royal Melbourne venue in 1998.
“The American team look like a bit of a juggernaut but we’ve got a good young team,” Ogilvy told reporters at the course on Monday.
“This is a tough place for them to play and Ernie is historically great around Royal Melbourne so he’s got a lot of wisdom and the players want to win for him.
“The Americans are in a sweet spot of form but if you watch the Ryder Cup, they are very beatable if you play well. I see no reason why we can’t pump them,” he added.
The Presidents Cup will open with five fourball matches on the Thursday, followed by five foursomes on Friday. There will be four foursomes and four fourballs on Saturday with 12 singles to round out the competition on Sunday.