Every member of the International team wants to take on Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup, with assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy suggesting that Australians Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and former world No. 1 Jason Day are front runners.
Woods will be playing captain when he leads the United States against the internationals skippered by Ernie Els in the biennial team matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne from Dec 12 to 15.
Ogilvy, who played in three Presidents Cups, said all 12 in his team had put their hand up to face the 15-time Major winner, but favoured one of his fellow Australians to take on the 43-year-old.
“Jason (Day) can clearly hang with Tiger and go down the stretch with him,” Ogilvy, who with Els was a member of the losing International team at Royal Melbourne in 2011, told the Herald Sun.
“Cam and Leish, they have really stood up the last couple of years and they are so bought into this. Cam is bouncing out of his skin. We have 12 great players, they all have a case.”
Woods will be the first playing captain since American Hale Irwin in the inaugural 1994 event after giving himself a wild card following his record-equalling 82nd US PGA Tour title at the Zozo Championship in Japan last month.
He spearheads a formidable team with three of the world’s top four golfers in No. 1 Brooks Koepka, third-ranked Dustin Johnson and No. 4 Justin Thomas.
Koepka, however, is in rehabilitation following a knee injury that forced him to miss both the recent CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na and Jordan Spieth are among those who could replace him.
Els has a relatively inexperienced team looking to win the event for only the second time in its 25-year history, after 1998 at this venue.
“The American team look like a bit of a juggernaut but we’ve got a good young team,” Ogilvy told reporters at the course on Monday.
“This is a tough place for them to play and Ernie is historically great around Royal Melbourne so he’s got a lot of wisdom and the players want to win for him.
“The Americans are in a sweet spot of form but if you watch the Ryder Cup, they are very beatable if you play well.
“I see no reason why we can’t pump them.”