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The Americans have never lost on home soil since this event began in 1994. The International team has only won once, in Australia in 1998.

Els and Scott have been the most vocal about needing to make the matches competitive _ the past three have been blowouts _ and see what it’s like to win. Schwartzel has been around Els for a long time, and he noticed a change in his voice when the four-time major champion speaks.

“You can sense in the way he’s speaking that he’s really tired of being on the losing side,” Schwartzel said. “Even out of Adam, too. They’ve had enough of this.”

Even so, there is a sense of pride from Els when he sees the young Springboks.

“We got pretty lucky to get talent like that,” Els said. “And we’ve got some more talent now in our foundation again. They have really laid a great foundation. They’re great kids … well, they’re not kids anymore.”

Grace was 15 when he spent a week at Fancourt in what remains the tensest Presidents Cup. It ended in a tie, and by rule, one name was pulled from an envelope to decide who won the cup _ Woods and Els. They halved the first two holes as darkness fell.

Woods rolled in an 18-foot putt that broke both ways, later calling it the most nervous he had ever been. Els rolled in a 6-foot par putt that looked twice as long to halve the third extra hole. The captains declared it a tie.

As they played the 15th hole Tuesday, a video of that moment was being shown on a big screen.

“I asked Ernie, `Listen, were you nervous over that putt?’ He was like, `Yes, I was,’” Grace said.

Oosthuizen needed the funding from Els‘ foundation to develop as a golfer. He was at Fancourt that weekend, but was home at Mossel Bay watching the final round on television.

The ending made a lasting impression. Then again, just about everything about Els has made a difference to him.

“He was a great guy to look up to, what he was doing in golf and the golfing world,” Oosthuizen said. “To play under his name and his clothing was like having your hero’s shirt on. It was just good fun.”

The Presidents Cup is serious business, especially for a team that never seems to win.

“To be on the same team as him is great,” Oosthuizen said. “Everyone is looking up at him and Adam for this week. I think Ernie is the one that is probably going to affect all of us the most by giving us good motivational speeches and just getting us fired up. But as the young side that we are, I think we’re all really fired up.”