Johannesburg - With the Presidents Cup just over a month away, there will be
a distinctly South African flavour to golf's International Team, with six of
the country's players currently eligible for the October tournament.
Australia's Adam Scott headed the international team rankings while Ernie
Els was in second place, and Charl Schwartzel lying in third. Louis Oosthuizen
(ranked fifth), Branden Grace (7), Richard Sterne (8) and Tim Clark (10) are
well-placed to make the team.
The biennial competition, which pitted non-European international players
against an all-American side in a matchplay format, was modelled on the Ryder
Cup. It was scheduled to take place at Muirfield Village Golf Club, in Ohio,
from October 1 to 6.
The Americans, led by Tiger Woods, were heavy favourites for the clash.
The top-10 ranked international players automatically qualified for the team
and, with Zimbabwean non-playing captain Nick Price in charge, he could add to
the number of South Africans with his two 'captains picks' at his disposal.
George Coetzee, just outside the top 10 in 13th spot, would have impressed
Price over the last two years with his performances on the European Tour and
stood a good chance of taking one of those two extra spots.
Other South Africans further down in the standings, with more of an outside
chance of being called up, were Jaco van Zyl (25), Thomas Aiken (28) and Darren
In 10 editions of the Presidents Cup, the international team had been
victorious only once, when the event was held at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club
Price and Els were team-mates that year, and the Big Easy was the only
remaining playing member of that team from 15 years ago.
Els, 43, would make his eighth appearance in the tournament after his debut
in 1996. It would also mark his fourth consecutive event after missing out in
Tim Clark, Gary Player's captain's pick in 2003, would make his fourth
appearance, should he maintain his 10th spot in the standings.
His debut was in the year the tournament was held at Fancourt's Links
course, in George. Woods and Els were slugging it out in a sudden-death playoff
before the light began to fade and the two captains decided to call it a tie.
Player described Clark as his 'bulldog' 10 years ago, and 'The Umkomaaster'
would bring experience, solid iron-play and clutch-putting to the team.
At 25, Grace had enjoyed a stellar 2012 campaign, where he won four times on
the European Tour.
Sterne was a potential debutant at number eight in the standings. He had
made a steady comeback from long-term injuries which plagued him in 2010 and
Schwartzel would make his second start, while Oosthuizen - if he was fully-recovered
from a hip injury which forced him to withdraw from the Open Championship in
July - would make his debut.
However, Oosthuizen had only committed to return to competitive golf the
week before the Presidents Cup got underway.
Price said he would make a call on Oosthuizen only once the 30-year-old was
back in competition.
"I spoke to him recently, and he's not going to play until the Dunhill
Cup, which is the week before the Presidents Cup," Price said.
"So we really won't know if he's match fit, or not, until the week
before. Being one of the top four or five players I have on the team, it's a
"But for most of us, or me anyway, I said to him, just get healthy
first. That's the most important thing. I don't really want him to injure himself
Price said Oosthuizen would keep him posted on his progress while he was
recuperating in South Africa.