- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. — A strong contingent from Down Under figures to play a prominent role for the International team at this week’s Presidents Cup.

Five Aussies are among the 12-player team: Stuart Appleby, Adam Scott, Nick O’Hern, Mark Hensby and Peter Lonard.

While the world’s Nos. 2 and 5 golfers, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, respectively, bring the Internationals immense star power, it’s up to the Aussie rank and file to do all the heavy lifting for the underdog squad at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

“Seeing that half the team is from Australasia, I think they are counting on us for some points,” said Scott, last year’s Booz Allen Classic champion. “We’re going to need to make some points this week, but it’s not like we’re the top six guys on the team. It doesn’t really matter where you are from. You’re just under the same flag this week.”

Toss in New Zealander and reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, and half the International team is from Oceania.

“I can promise you one thing, the Aussies are great competitors, and they’ll all come in here with big hearts,” said Australian Ian Baker-Finch, the International team’s captain’s assistant. “That’s what they will be doing by playing their best golf. I’m sure [Michael Campbell] is the same way.”

Campbell, ranked No. 15 in the world, rolls into this event fresh off a victory worth $1.8 million in last week’s World Match Play Championship in Wentworth, England. The event served as a tuneup for the Presidents Cup.

“Yeah, it puts you in a certain mode of play,” Campbell said. “After playing six rounds, eight rounds of match-play golf, certainly helped my mentality for this week. So, it’s probably a good start for this week, preparation-wise.”

Campbell isn’t the only match-play maven on the International team. Little-known O’Hern, a European Tour regular, defeated World No. 1 Tiger Woods in the second round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Carlsbad, Calif.

The short-hitting O’Hern ambushed Woods, a veritable match-play machine who has won three U.S. Amateur titles (1994-96), three Junior Amateur championships, and two World Match Play Championships (2003-04).

“I think I probably really annoyed the [heck] out of him because he outdrove me by 60 meters on every hole,” O’Hern said. “So maybe he thought, ‘Well, hang on, this guy is hitting his second shots in all the time,’ and that day I was knocking them in pretty close so he knew he had to hit pretty good second shots out here. I think if you can have that advantage of playing the second shot in first, you can really put some pressure on your opponent. And that’s what I enjoy about match play because most times, I have that second shot first. As far as when the singles comes up, we’ll see what happens. I guess in that way I’ve got a heck of a record against him, 1-0, so maybe he’s looking for a bit of revenge, who knows.”

Greg Norman and Steve Elkington both paved the way to RTJ for this new crop of Australians in the Presidents Cup. Norman and Elkington both performed at a high level in this competition. In three previous Cups (1996, 1998, and 2000), Norman posted a 7-6-1 record.

Elkington was even better than Norman in his three Presidents Cups (1994, 1996, 1998), going 8-4-3. Elkington, who was runner-up at this year’s PGA Championship, just missed out on being picked for this International team.

“It was great to have some representation early on in this event for us [Australians],” Scott said.

Lonard, a Captain’s choice, believes the camaraderie between his fellow Australian golfers may be the intangible that separates the International team from the Americans.

“If you count how many beers [the Americans] drink and how many beers we drink at the end of the week, I think we’ll win quite comfortably,” Lonard said.

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