Team International’s plan to finally topple U.S.
Adam Scott had been a part of six International Teams without a victory in the Presidents Cup before he felt he just had to say something. Aside from the drawn effort in his debut in South African in 2003, they had all been losing teams. As a senior member of the playing force heading to Korea in 2015 Scott went to captain Nick Price with an idea, a request … it was almost an insistence. “We had to come together better as a group, earlier in the week,” Scott explains. “By the end of the tournament we always become the best of mates and want to go out and play it all over again. Unfortunately, we had already lost.” It is the stuff of legend that the International Team closing party is perhaps more fun than their winning American counterparts. Over the years, U.S. Team members have been known to slip out of their own celebrations and head over to the losing sides soiree. Realizing the connections that were forging should have been helping them play better earlier in the week, Scott went to Price and asked for the opening Monday of the week to have a greater purpose. A bonding session. If we want to beat an American team, who are always 12 unbelievably good players, you have to be all in and all playing for each other. And so, on that Monday in Korea the extended team of caddies and players and assistants and everyone involved got together in the evening. “I felt strongly about a few things and I said to Nick I think it is really important we have a fun evening when we get there on Monday. Don’t just say you’re free to go to bed – make people want to stay,” Scott recalls. “We had to make it fun. Let’s have some speeches, get a comedian, get a magician if you have to, do whatever it takes to get everyone jacked up about the week as a unit early.” The notion might seem trivial. Particularly if you’re American. But remember, the U.S. Team members play on the PGA TOUR together. They all see each other a lot and practice together. They usually team up in the Ryder Cup. They are already a solid unit playing under one flag. The International Team is made up of multiple countries and cultures. Some, like Australia and South Africa (who make up the clear majority of the International Team most years) are arch enemies on the sporting fields in popular sports like rugby and cricket. It is not natural to come together without some effort. Then, of course, the Asian and South American countries have different cultures as well and sometimes there is a language barrier. It can be easy to leave someone feeling like they’re on the outside … not quite part of the inner circle. “Sometimes too much is made of the golf side of things, the statistics and the foursomes and the pairings and all that,” former player and now assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy says. “I just think that team feel ‑‑ do you want to win for your teammates more than the other team want to win for their teammates – that’s the key. “It's the guys that come together best as a team that usually thrive, and that's a harder deal for the internationals, so that's really the big challenge for us.” Perhaps Europe’s Ryder Cup squads are the model. The bond in some of those sides has appeared beyond unbreakable. You can see the cohesiveness and togetherness. On paper, they looked like they were going to lose every time, but when it came down to playing, it just looked like there was something extra there. “It's like, wow, the whole is greater than the combined pieces,” Ogilvy adds. Scott says a big reason why the core of the team campaigned to have Price back for a third time as captain as he did create the best team vibe they’ve had in recent times. And they are confident they can build further on it. “Nick had done a great job getting guys individually excited to be there but once we were all in the room, we had to solidify the team passion,” Scott continues. “We may not have quite locked the doors but the entire extended unit certainly bonded that night and it was a great way to start the week. “It was really evident after the last few cups before that how tight knit we were across the entire team, not just the players. “If we want to beat an American team, who are always 12 unbelievably good players, you have to be all in and all playing for each other.” Of course, history shows the International Team still lost the Presidents Cup in 2015 but this time it was just by a single point. They were perhaps a Sang-moon Bae flubbed chip away from a historic win on Sunday. Quite an improvement considering they’d lost by three or more points in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. And so the bonding session will once again be implemented at Liberty National in New Jersey later this year. Potential rookies like PLAYERS Championship winner Si Woo Kim, Emiliano Grillo, Hideto Tanihara, Adam Hadwin, Byeong Hun An, Yuta Ikeda or Cameron Smith will be immediately welcomed into the fold. “I want everyone in here ready to go early. Getting the rookies and young guys familiar with how the whole week works because once the bell rings Thursday it just goes by in a flash,” Price confirmed while doing a reconnaissance mission with his assistant captains earlier this week. “We all know each other but we don’t really know each other. Younger guys know Ernie Els but they’ve never sat down and had lunch with Ernie, or with me for that matter, and there can be a little bit of intimidation – they don’t know where their place is. “So the whole idea is to make them feel they have a place, they’ve earned their place here and that they are part of this group that is made up of the players, the caddies, the wives, the support staff – everyone. Even though you are out there on your own there are 50 people on the sideline pulling hard for you.”
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