VIRGINIA WATER, England — He will be, by a distance, the most experienced member of the International side at the Presidents Cup. On nine previous occasions, Adam Scott has teed-up on behalf of the most diverse group ever assembled in team golf.
But not the most successful. Drawn from anywhere and everywhere other than Europe, the Internationals have managed only one victory and one draw in the 13 matches already etched into the history books.
On paper at least, this time out at Quail Hollow in Charlotte (Sep 25-28) looks to follow a similar pattern. Weakened by the absence of numerous players who have moved to LIV Golf—Cameron Smith, Charl Schwartzel, Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman and Carlos Ortiz, to name but seven—non-playing captain Trevor Immelman’s squad hardly compares to that assembled by US skipper Davis Love.
“I’m sure Trevor had a good idea about what was going to happen with the LIV guys,” says Scott. “As frustrating as that is, he has his plans in place. I’m sure it was a big relief for him to be able to announce his team the other day. Now we can look forward. He can almost hand things off to us to go play. Hopefully we all go out there and just let loose. We have nothing to lose. Not a thing.
“My overall take is that I really like the vibe of where the International team is going,” he continues. “We’re in the infancy stage of creating the sort of culture that is obvious in European teams at the Ryder Cup. In the past it was difficult to get everyone in the side on the same page. Efforts weren’t being made in the right areas. Everyone was making an effort, but maybe only when they arrived on-site.”
On that front, Scott surely speaks the truth. In matches gone by, successive skippers struggled to pull together disparate players from such a range of cultures. And while that has been changing for the better, it is hard to imagine even a happy team beating such a powerful American lineup. The highest-ranked player in the International squad is No. 16 Hideki Matsuyama. Nine of the 12 US side are, statistically at least, better players than the Japanese former Masters champion.
“It’s always exciting going into any Presidents Cup, but this year is a little different,” admits Scott, who owns a 16-21-6 record in the biennial contest. “It’s hard to deny we are maybe the heaviest underdogs ever. However, funny things have happened. Not many, I grant you. But I do have a very good feeling generally about the International team. Just generally, not specifically this group of 12. I think the whole environment Ernie Els made an effort to create—and which Trevor has embraced over the nearly three years since we last played—is growing.”
To that end, Immelman gathered his team at Quail Hollow after the recent Tour Championship for a look at the course, as well as a brief bonding session. At least to Scott, it was a great meeting of collective minds.
“I could feel the enthusiasm of the younger guys,” says the former Masters champion. “And the older scarred dogs like me are almost gone. It was really fun to be around that environment. Everything Trevor has done to build that vibe has been fantastic. He’s been really good over the last six-eight months while there have been so many distractions going on.
“On paper I know the difference between the two teams looks huge,” Scott continues. “But in 18-hole match play when some of the best players in the world get hot, anything can happen. At this level, it doesn’t take much for that to come about in such a short format. That has to be our mindset for the week. We could go down in a screaming heap. Or we could have one of the biggest upsets in a golf team event ever.”
As you’d expect, Scott will have an important role to play within the International team room, as well as out on the course. One of the most popular players in world golf, his amiable combination of approachability and experience is something captain Immelman will surely want to utilize.
“My role within all of this can be whatever Trevor and his assistants want it to be,” says Scott. “We haven’t discussed it though. I’m there to win points like everyone else. Without loading pressure on myself, it clearly looks good for the rest of the team if I go out and win some matches. My head is going to be focused on doing just that.
“Over the course of the last couple of Presidents Cups, I’ve certainly had a forum to speak to the team as a player,” he continues. “I’m a senior member. So I’m there if needed. If Trevor feels like I’m the best guy to say something, or to put something across to the others, then I’m there for him. And it goes without saying I’m happy to talk to anyone else on our side if they have a specific question.”
All in all, then, Scott will head to Charlotte later this month with optimism in his heart and mind.
“It’s going to be a fun week,’ he insists. “Yes, we’ve got our work cut out. But it is an opportunity for us to go out there and play great golf. No one is going to be on our case if we lose heavily. I’m looking forward to it. Like in Melbourne last time, we have a chance to surprise a few people.”
Indeed, always look on the bright side of LIV.