ROYAL Melbourne will either host a rousing duel in 2019 or the relevance of golf’s most lopsided event will again cloud the Presidents Cup.
Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and their league of eight nations are playing for far more than a stylish trophy in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in the US this week.
They must show that the thrilling one-point loss to the Americans in Korea two years ago was the sign of a real resurgence by the Internationals not a flash-in-the-pan.
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Clamouring for Winx to keep adding to a 20-race winning streak is electrifying in horse racing.
One-way traffic in a golfing teams event built around 30 head-to-head duels that are meant to maximise drama and competitiveness is a slow death.
The star-studded teams event could have been rebranded as the “America’s Cup” long ago.
Foundation player Phil Mickelson has been a winner in nine of the 11 contested and the Internationals haven’t won since Greg Norman was still in his pomp in 1998.
Scott has only the tie of 2003 in South Africa in his first appearance to break up six losses since. It hurts.
He wants the rebound to start quickly on Friday morning in the five alternative shot foursomes matches, which the Americans traditionally dominate, at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.
Scott is a big fan of how captain Nick Price has bonded the Internationals to be more invested in the event than ever before over the past four years.
It is a good sign but only a sign. US captain Steve Stricker has indicated his worry is less about how Day, on a hot birdie run, or Leishman, the Spieth-slayer of 2015, play.
“I think the challenge will be a little overconfidence,” Stricker said of a line-up bristling with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and the superconfident Justin Thomas.
The Americans have six rookies on their team but you can hardly imagine PGA Tour Player-of-the-Year favourite Thomas freezing as a nervy non-performer.
The Internationals have just four but they are far more of a lottery.
Emiliano Grillo and Jhonattan Vegas may click or fizzle as a Spanish-speaking duo, Korean Si Woo Kim doesn’t have a Top 10 since his breakthrough Players Championship win in May and Canadian Adam Hadwin is another with a single victory on the PGA Tour.
Day was the hottest golfer in the world in 2015 when he didn’t win any of his five matches in Korea, where South Africa’s Branden Grace went 5-0 in his.
The Presidents Cup always throws up wacky anomalies.
Sadly, none has involved the Internationals winning for 19 years, which is the goal for Price and his 12 history-chasers.