Johannesburg - The US team will be out to prove its Presidents Cup dominance for the seventh time running when it meets the international squad at Liberty National Golf Course in New Jersey on Thursday.
The four-day event is a series of matches between a side representing the US that will compete against a squad comprising golfers from the rest of the world – excluding Europe.
The US team is led by captain Steve Stricker. It’s made up of the top 10 US PGA Tour members who earned the most FedEx Cup points between September 5 2015 and September 4 this year.
The international squad is guided by veteran Zimbabwean Nick Price. It comprises the leading 10 players from nine countries, selected by their official world golf rankings registered by September 4.
The Americans have been on a winning streak since 1994. They are determined to stretch their enviable victorious run at the expense of the opposition that has won once – in 1998.
The presence of three South Africans: Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace will most likely be a moral booster for the international team. They are experienced campaigners who will be appearing in the event for the third time since 2013.
Oosthuizen and Schwartzel have played in 49 events and have amassed 151.14 and 97.54 points, respectively. Grace collected 75.74 points from 52 contests.
Australia has three golfers – Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, which puts the country on par with South Africa for the highest number of representatives at the event.
Mzansi had a large representation in 2013 with five members in the contest, including Schwartzel, Oosthuizen, Grace, Ernie Els and Richard Sterne.
Veteran Phil Mickelson, who has been drafted in as the captain’s pick for the US team, will be out to prove his worth for his country. The left-handed player has won five majors and 42 events on the PGA Tour.
Lefty, as he is nicknamed, is determined to spearhead his side to yet another victory by scoring more points in his pairing.
Meanwhile, the international team, which will boast some of the top players, will be out to redeem itself by winning its second contest.
Price’s team this year will have South African professional caddie Tiger Lekhulene as the man to guide the squad’s caddies. The 58-year-old Soweto-based Lekhulene currently works at Randpark Golf Club. He has a wealth of experience on the greens after having carried Price’s golf bags since 1977.
He will guide fellow caddies working with the different players to help the internationals to win. His duties involve educating his colleagues about aspects of the game, such as the importance of club selection before and after each round of golf during the competition.
And, who knows, Lekhulene’s tips may help the international team win this time around.