INCHEON, South Korea (AP) Adam Scott has seven Presidents Cup logos on his bag to show how many teams he has made.
Except for one tie, those cups are empty.
No player symbolizes the futility of the International team more than Scott, simply because he has been around the longest. And no other player on the International team is more determined to end more than a decade of losing for the same reason.
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”I’ll speak for myself, but I feel I’m more invested than ever in this event,” Scott said Wednesday after the final day of practice for the matches at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. ”We don’t have a crystal ball, and anything can happen in this game. But I believe we’re moving closer to a great competition.”
That’s what he thought when the 35-year-old Australian made his Presidents Cup debut in South Africa in 2003.
Those matches ended in chaos and eventually a tie when Ernie Els and Tiger Woods were in a sudden-death playoff to decide the Presidents Cup when it was too dark to continue. The captains, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, suggested a draw was the appropriate conclusion. But when Nicklaus casually mentioned that a tie meant the Americans would keep the cup as the defending champion, no player spoke louder than Scott on the second green.
”Let’s keep playing,” he shouted.
Scott chuckles at the memory now. Els and Woods, two giants in the game, said later it was some of the greatest pressure they had felt.
”Probably being young and naive at that point, I had no understanding of that real pressure Tiger and Ernie were facing that day,” Scott said. ”I felt and I understand the big picture of the game, but I wanted to win, and I was willing to put Ernie on the line to win or lose quite easily.”
That was as close as Scott came to celebrating.
The Americans won late the next time, and then won big in Canada, San Francisco and even Melbourne, which had been the site of the only International victory in 1998.
This is the youngest International team since the Presidents Cup began in 1994, with an average age of 30.4 that is slightly skewed by one of its rookies, 45-year-old Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. There’s no doubt who the veteran is now that Ernie Els is not here.
”Obviously, Adam Scott is kind of like the veteran of our group, and he’s probably the most vocal out of everyone to stand up and say how it is and tell us that we need to do better,” said Jason Day, who at No. 2 in the world is the best player on the International side but playing in only his third Presidents Cup.
”It would be nice to win,” Day said. ”I think everyone is kind of fed up with it, that we’ve been losing for a while now. I think Adam Scott is more so fed up with it because he’s been on his seventh team now and hasn’t won one.”
Robert Allenby is the only other player who has competed six times in the Presidents Cup without winning. Scott would surpass that, unless the International team wins.
Despite the record, and an American team that is as stacked as ever, Scott has a good feeling.
He again was among the strongest voices when the Internationals demanded the points get reduced from 34 points to 30 points (the International team wanted it at 28 points, same as the Ryder Cup). And he has been close to captain Nick Price during the fight for the International team to have a stronger voice.
”It’s a very important cup, and I think Nick said it,” Scott said. ”I think the amount of time that he’s put in behind the scenes is probably unprecedented.”
Some help is on the way.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said two weeks ago the International Federation of PGA Tours – those that historically send players to the Presidents Cup – would have a broader role beyond input on who the captain should be.
”For the event to be treated like it should be, that’s what needs to happen,” Scott said.
What would help is the recipe that works at any cup – winning matches, winning points. Scott has a 12-15-3 record in his six previous Presidents Cup appearances. He comes into this event with a short putter that he has been testing for the last five weeks.
Scott played all four team sessions with Hideki Matsuyama two years ago, and Price has them in the leadoff match in foursomes against Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes.
”I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the first match, but it is a big boost if the first match goes out and does well,” Scott said. ”I think Hideki and I are comfortable with each other, so I’m sure that’s why Nick put us out first with a bit of experience. Every match is going to be a tough match.”