Internationals' Cup game plan to topple US

The International team line up for their photos before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
The International team line up for their photos before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Tired of tardy starts and playing catch-up, the Internationals are intent on getting off to a flyer in their bold bid to win golf's Presidents Cup for the first time in 21 years.

The International team has trailed the United States after the first-day foursomes or fourballs in nine of the past 12 editions of the biennial event and haven't won an opening session since 2005.

The sloppy starts have generally translated into defeat, with the rest of the world outfit having last had their hands on the cup in 1998.

Little wonder Ernie Els' underdogs plan on setting the pace when this year's showdown gets under way at Royal Melbourne on Thursday.

"We have to get off to a good start. As long as we can hang with them," said Internationals veteran and spearhead Adam Scott on Wednesday.

"Our team doesn't need to be chasing its tail out here. We don't need to be mounting a huge comeback."

Vice-captain Geoff Ogilvy was even more forthright when asked what would be a satisfactory start for the Internationals.

"It's nice to be in front. We have a track record of not being in front for this tournament," Ogilvy said.

"We would love to be in front after tomorrow, certainly."

But if Tiger Woods has anything to say about it, the Internationals will again find themselves trailing early after the USA's superstar playing captain picked himself for Thursday's opening match.

Woods and world No.4 Justin Thomas will face Marc Leishman and Chile's Cup rookie Joaquin Niemann.

But Ogilvy and fellow assistant Trevor Immelman are backing the Internationals to take it to the hot favourites.

"We're the youngest collective Presidents Cup team in history and it's pretty incredible, really," Immelman said of an International side featuring seven debutants and an average age of under 30.

"It's just a good blend. The young guys are just bouncing out of their skin to come play and the veteran guys, if you like are, too," Ogilvy said.

"But it's a different style. They get to the room and they see all their clothes and all the free stuff you get for this week, and just how well we get spoilt.

"The young guys, just the excitement level is just contagious, and I think that's what's good about having a blend of veterans and young guys ... everybody benefits from being around people who are good at something.

"The Scottys and the Leishmans get just as much out of the CTs and the Haotongs (CT Pan and Haotong Li) than the other way around."

While much has been made of the Internationals' home-course advantage, Ogilvy hopes jet lag for the US team and less time for Woods' men to acclimatise will prove more of a factor.

"Professional golfers are professional golf course learners. This is what we do every week," Ogilvy said.

"I'm pretty sure the US team is going to have it, how to play Royal Melbourne, mostly squared away by tomorrow morning.

"And the crowd I think is going to help if they get on our side a little bit... when you feel like you have got 20,000 members of your team as opposed to 12.

"That really, really helps. That's more powerful.

"And our guys have been here longer, been in Australia in the time zone for a few more days than the US guys and that might help, too."

Australian Associated Press