Presidents Cup: Race for final Int'l spots

Robert Allenby

Robert Allenby

In 2009, Adam Scott was on the bubble. His season was in disarray, despite an early second-place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The Australian had more missed cuts than made.

But International captain Greg Norman had faith in Scott, picking him for the Presidents Cup team at Harding Park.

Scott - along with Ernie Els - would capture the first point of the matches in foursomes, but ultimately the Internationals would lose to the U.S. 19.5 to 14.5.

“It's not a great position to be in because there's no guarantees on what the captains might do as far as a pick,” said Scott. “But you know you've had a lot of opportunity leading into it, so you've got no one to blame but yourself.”

The Presidents Cup is back at Royal Melbourne, the site of the International’s greatest victory - 20.5 to 11.5. But its been slim pickings since then, with the U.S. winning four of the last five, with the fifth a tie in South Africa.

With the recent record, everyone on the team - which includes Scott - knows the importance of making sure this team has what it needs to win, which likely includes picking Australians.

“It is my main goal for the year to make that team, as a priority over everything, really,” Scott said. “I felt because of it might be the only time in my career that we play in Australia and to be under Greg again I think it's probably going to be one of the most memorable weeks of my whole golfing career, win lose or draw, but hopefully win.”

Scott has been in touch with Norman many times once he found he would be on the team, trying to help in any way to put the International’s best foot forward, which over the next week will include the two captain’s picks.

Going into the final round of the BMW Championship, Geoff Ogilvy is on the bubble at 10th. Ogilvy is currently T-3 at the BMW Championship, and is projected to make the squad if he finishes 25th or better.

Like Scott, Ogilvy has been talking to Norman a bit about the team. With a house off the 14th hole at Royal Melbourne, he too is itching to get on the team and make sure it is successful.

“No disrespect to the Tour Championship, (but) if they said would you want to win the TOUR Championship or the President's Cup, there's no question,” Ogilvy said. “I did say that. Yes. That's a fair thing to say.”

Both Scott and Ogilvy are much the same on how the picks should go. Australians in Australia seems to make the most sense and Norman will have a few to pick from with Aaron Baddeley, Robert Allenby and a resurgent John Senden.

“If two players were exactly equal the Australian would probably get the nod,” Scott said. “But two players are never equal, are they. It would be the same like when (Mike) Wiersy got picked in Canada. I mean that was just a good pick there because they're going to be inspired in the home country, so I think obviously picking home country countrymen has to be part of the decision."

Allenby and Baddeley have to finish fifth and sixth respectively to have any chance to make the team on points. With Baddeley at 47th coming into the final round at the BMW, he would most likely be on the outside looking in. But Allenby is a little different.

In 17th place, the Melbourne-born Allenby is five shots from getting into the mix, but even if he doesn’t, Allenby seems to be a lock in some quarters.

“My feeling is Robert Allenby would be a great attribute for the team,” Scott said. “He just plays so well in Australia, he wins an event every year down there and he's good fun on the team. I think that you know what you're going to get with Robert and that's important for one of the picks.”

Allenby’s home club is Yara Yara Golf Club, just three miles from Royal Melbourne. By his own admission, Allenby has played the Presidents Cup venue thousands of times, his first time at the age of 12 and has won there twice.

Assuming knowledge and a bit a form is enough, Allenby is likely one of the two captain's picks, but the other is a wild card between Vijay Singh, Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini, Camillo Villegas and Senden.

But one of the potential picks sees his chances as a long shot.

“I would say considering I didn't get picked last time, my odds are very slim,” Sabbatini said. “I would love to be on the team, but realistically I have to look at the fact that if they're playing in South Africa it would improve my chances, but if they're playing in Australia, so you know it's more likely that an Australian will get picked.”

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