Ernie Els, tipped as likely heir to Nick Price as captain of the Presidents Cup International team, thinks more autonomy could help even out the lopsided rivalry with the United States.
“Definitely, to get our hands on our business personally, to make our own decisions, I think that’s definitely a point that we can discuss,” Els said.
The biennial match play showdown, launched in 1994 to give players from countries outside Europe’s Ryder Cup catchment area a shot at the Americans, is run by the US PGA Tour, which chooses the captains and lays down the selection criteria for both teams as well deciding the format of the competition.
In the wake of another stinging defeat to the Americans on Sunday — 19-11 at Liberty National Golf Club — Els, an assistant to Price this year, said he’d like to see changes made.
“I think it’s gotten to a stage now where we have to do whatever we can to try and benefit our team,” Els said.
“Whether it’s logistics, scheduling, golf course setup … I think we have to be more in control, especially when we have a home-course advantage.
“Maybe we should have our own selection process instead of us getting dictated by the Tour … we really need to sit down and talk about it.”
– Invested in the Cup –
But Els insisted that despite 10 US victories to one for the Internationals, with one draw in 2003, International players remain committed to the Cup.
“If negotiations don’t go our way I don’t think the guys want to walk away from the Cup.”
“I think the guys are invested into the Cup. The guys want to play. They want to compete. But we just want to feel that we are being treated fairly … the future of the Cup is important.”
Price successfully lobbied for a reduction in the number of points per contest, from 34 to 30 beginning in 2015, arguing the greater number of matches was too big an advantage for the US with its deeper pool of player talent.
This year, every player on the International team was a regular on the US PGA Tour — lending a little more cohesion to a crew that drew players from eight countries on five continents.
The diverse backgrounds of the Internationals makes it harder to build the team chemistry the United States enjoy.
In addition, US players have a shot at representing their country every year thanks to the Ryder Cup in alternate seasons.
“I think playing as a team more often is beneficial when it comes to this event,” said Australian Adam Scott, who has now played on eight Presidents Cup teams without a win.
“That’s the hardest task for us. New guys in and out every two years with less and less experience in this kind of format is hard.”
The Presidents Cup returns in December of 2019 to Royal Melbourne, scene of the only International victory in 1998.
The Internationals lost in a return trip to Melbourne in 2011.
Victorious US captain Steve Stricker indicated on Sunday that he wasn’t interested in any format changes aimed at achieving greater parity between the teams.
“We weren’t really too happy with the reduction of points to start with,” Stricker said. “We wanted an event that kind of allowed all our players to go out there and play.
“So yeah, I don’t see anything changing.”