Cape Town – Nine-time major winner Gary Player says International Presidents Cup captain Ernie Els has one of “hardest jobs”, but hopes his team prevails in this year’s event.
Els will confirm his four wildcard picks to round out his 12-player team later this week.
This is the first time in Presidents Cup history that both captain’s will make four picks – instead of only two previously.
Tiger Woods is the US captain, but is widely expected to select himself as a player-captain.
Player, who captained the International team on three occasions (2003, 2005 and 2007), believes it’s difficult to predict who Els will pick.
“I don’t follow the regular tour to the extent that I should so it would be wrong for me to say who I would pick,” said Player at the Night with Ronan Keating charity event at Val de Vie this past weekend.
“We have not been very successful in the Presidents Cup even though our teams have been as strong as America’s. Maybe one or two years even stronger, but the golf ball doesn’t know that. (Peter) Thomson won at Royal Melbourne against America way back,” said the 84-year-old.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club will host the Presidents Cup for a third time in December, and is the venue of the only win by the International team – in 1998 under Australia’s Thomson – to date.
The 2019 Presidents Cup will be the 13th edition.
At the 2003 Presidents Cup, Player and US captain Jack Nicklaus memorably made history as the teams tied 17-17 at The Links at Fancourt in George.
Player revealed in a press conference that Nicklaus stated the 2003 tie was his greatest moment in his career.
“We tied, Jack Nicklaus and I, at Fancourt, which was a marvellous success,” said the South African great.
“Nicklaus said, with all his victories, ‘that’s the greatest moment of my life in golf – tying in the Presidents Cup.’ And the drama and seeing black, white, coloured and Indian spectators all leaving the golf course hand-in-hand and singing. When you put that ahead of your majors, it’s pretty impressive.”
Speaking from his captaincy experience, Player said Els has a hard job on his hands, but was positive his compatriot would succeed.
“It’s a hard job, I was captain three times and I tell you, you’ve got to travel all over the world. It’s not an easy job. So let’s hope that Ernie’s team prevail… I’m sure Ernie will do a good job.”
Louis Oosthuizen was the sole South African to have automatically qualified for the International team at the tournament which is set to take place from December 9-15.
– Compiled by Lynn Butler, Garrin Lambley