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Adam Scott and Jason Day are hoping to send a not-so-subtle message to Presidents Cup International captain Ernie Els this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The pair of Aussie stars are the betting favourites heading into the team event at TPC Louisiana, with odds of 7-1. Day and Scott have been paired together just once in the Presidents Cup, something they hope will change this December when the biennial event is played in Australia at Royal Melbourne for the the third time.
“I believe Jason and I are a really formidable pairing,” Scott said this week in New Orleans. “I think whoever we play has to turn and take notice of us, and I’ve tried to push for it to happen more often, but there’s a lot of different opinions and things to happen. You know, you have to play as a team member and do what’s best for the team, but I would definitely push for this pairing certainly in Australia.”
Captain Els will get a first-hand look at some of the potential Presidents Cup pairings this week as the 49-year-old South African is in the field, paired with countryman Trevor Immelman. There are 80 teams playing this week with rounds one and three four-ball (both players play every hole, best score counts), and rounds two and four foursomes (alternate shot).
The Presidents Cup has long been the weak sister of the Ryder Cup, but this year’s edition will have everything going for it.
Els has been one of the most popular players on tour for years, and he will be facing off against American captain Tiger Woods, who likely will end up as a playing captain. The venue couldn’t be better, with Royal Melbourne being one of the world’s best golf courses. Also, because of the time change in Australia, most North American viewers will be watching the tournament in prime time this December.
All of this is great news for a tournament struggling in the shadow of Ryder Cup frenzy.
What Els is tasked with, though, is changing a quarter century of International team futility. The world players have just a single win in the event’s history, coming in 1998, the first time the tournament was played at Royal Melbourne. The Americans later won down under in 2011.
“I’ve sat through a lot of Presidents Cup beat-downs over the years, and I’ve kind of had enough of it,” said Scott. “So I’m prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever Ernie thinks it takes to kind of change the culture in our team.”
For Scott and Day, whatever it takes hopefully includes pairing his powerhouse Aussies together on their home turf. They hope to give their captain a taste of what they can offer beginning Thursday at the Zurich Classic.
TEAM WINS NOTHING TO SNEAD AT
The Zurich Classic became a team event in 2017, and one of the most interesting aspects of the format is that both players on the winning team will receive an official PGA Tour victory and official prize money.
This means if Brooks Koepka and brother Chase – who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption – win on Sunday, the younger Koepka will secure a full PGA Tour exemption through the 2021 season. Chase’s career has stalled after losing his European Tour card last year, but with a little help from his three-time major champ brother, things could get back on track quickly.
The last official team event on the PGA Tour was the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship.
The team format is often brought up when discussing the validity of Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour wins. Although there will be major pomp and circumstance if and when Tiger Woods’ breaks Snead’s record, it’s tough to argue that Tiger shouldn’t already be the record holder.
In 1980, a group of golf historians was tasked by then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman to come up with the official stats and records for the tour. At the time, the future weight we would put on these statistical achievements couldn’t be known.
Jack Nicklaus once said that when he was winning major championships he had no idea they would grow into the be-all-and-end-all of how many people rate a golfer’s career. In a number of ways, the 1980 process of deciding official tour events likely wouldn’t stand up to today’s scrutiny.
Besides Snead’s five team event wins – which the Zurich Classic actually helps to validate – there are also several 36-hole tournaments and one 18-hole tournament included in his total. Today’s PGA Tour policy requires at least 54 holes for an official win. The Palm Beach Round Robin, which Snead won five times, usually featured a field of just 16 golfers. The 1946 World Championship of Golf was a 36-hole event had just four (4!) golfers.
For reference, Woods won the four-man Grand Slam of Golf seven times, but none of them count as official wins.
The 1950 Bing Crosby Pro-Am was called because of darkness with four players, including Snead, tied for the lead. The result? Four winners, of course.
It’s not hard to see that there is a little room for interpretation in the record books, but Woods seems destined to remove any need for asterisks.
The team format at this week’s Zurich Classic – complete with walk-in music for each team – likely isn’t for everyone, but we think it offers some welcome levity in the middle of a busy stretch of intense stroke play tournaments … Teams featuring Canadians in the field this week are Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes, Adam Hadwin with American Jim Knous, Adam Svensson with American Ollie Schniederjans, Nick Taylor with Scotland’s Martin Laird and David Hearn with Irishman Seamus Power.
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