16 | NZ Golf Magazine | July 2019 “Captain Els is doing a great job to keep everyone on the same page, but we also work on some statistic stuff, something I'm not allowed to talk about,” said C.T. Pan, of Chinese Taipei. “But everyone is on the same page, and I think that's very important. He's trying his best to give us a chance to win the Cup.” At the direction of Els, several international players paired up at the Zurich Classic, which features a unique team format not unlike what they will eventually face at the Presidents Cup. The idea was that early work together would get team hopefuls familiar with both the playing setup and any potential partner. Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott teamed up, as did Indians Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri. Canadians Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes were matched together, as well as Koreans Whee Kim, Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim and Sangmoon Bae. Latin Americans Jhonattan Vegas and Abraham Ancer also participated. That early-season experience working alongside one another could wind up paying dividends this December at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. “We're playing the fourball and the foursomes formats, and those are the two disciplines that we have to get better at going forward with the Presidents Cup,” Els said at the time. “So it's quite important to see how the guys score, how they perform. It's very different golf courses, obviously, between the TPC Louisiana and the Royal Melbourne. But it's playing the format, getting used to playing these different types of golf, and getting used to each other’s company.” When play ended, all team hopefuls returned to rest their heads at the same hotel, where mornings and evenings were spent building rapport among players. Those relationships could prove pivotal for a team that may end up featuring an array of new faces. As of June 1, the top 12 players in the International Team standings included seven players who have never appeared in a Presidents Cup. Now, whether Els ultimately opts to use his four captains picks on those with little to no experience is another discussion. After all, veteran presence is critical in team events such as this. But that decision won’t be made for several months, when point totals end following the TOUR Championship. So for now, any debate on potential roster members must be limited strictly to those within the top 12 of the standings (the top eight automatically earn a spot, with Els picking the remaining four). Some longtime Presidents Cup stalwarts should be considered virtual locks for 2019. Chief among those are Australia’s Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Jason Day, who have a combined 15 appearances and are all inside the top eight. Those players’ familiarity with Royal Melbourne Golf Course should only help their cases. “Being back at Royal Melbourne's going to be awesome,” said ↑ Ernie Els is named captain for the International team for the 2019 President's Cup in Melbourne, Australia. FEATURE