Internationals fighting for Cup credibility: Norman

Melbourne: After three straight losses in the Presidents Cup, the International team not only need to win the ninth edition at Royal Melbourne Golf Club for themselves but also to lend the trophy more credibility, according to captain Greg Norman.

The biennial tournament between the Internationals and the United States has struggled to generate the same level of excitement as the tension-charged Ryder Cup, with the Americans winning all but two editions.

"I think it`s really important (we win). As a team, it`s important for us, there`s no question," Australian Norman told reporters on the first official practice day on Tuesday.

"For the Presidents Cup, you can go back to look at the history of the beginning of The Ryder Cup.”

"I think the United States drummed the U.K. team in matches before the Ryder Cup was expanded to Europe and then it became a real competitive spirit where the Americans started to get challenged and got beat.”

"And that needs to happen for The Presidents Cup as well."

The Americans, who play the Ryder Cup against Europe and the Presidents Cup in alternate years, enjoy a natural advantage in team cohesion than the disparate group of nations that are thrown together for the Internationals, but have also hosted the event in six out of the past eight editions.

In 2003, the teams drew 17-17 in South Africa after local favourite Ernie Els and Tiger Woods had parred the first three extra holes in an unprecedented playoff before it became too dark to continue.

However, the Americans went onto to win the next three tournaments on home soil, the last in San Francisco by an emphatic five points, and Norman said the advantage was telling.

"You have to take it to a host country outside of the United States for sure to give those guys, whether it`s going to Korea or whether it goes to South Africa again or whether it comes back to Australia or Japan, to give those guys a sense of responsibility of bringing a great event like The Presidents Cup to their country, and it gives them a real sense of -- a big lift of picking them up," he said.

U.S. captain Fred Couples, who led the Americans to victory over Norman`s team in San Francisco, agreed that the Internationals had been given a raw deal but said there was no grumbling on his team about the long-haul flights down to Melbourne.

"Greg will tell you, he`s been on a lot of these teams, and you know, when you lose, and you make a comment, everyone looks at you like it`s sour grapes because it gets frustrating that we play at the United States all the time.”

"And I think our players would say the same: If the Internationals came up with this and we travelled and played Royal Melbourne and played in Adelaide and we lost every single time, we would say, `what the hell, how about playing this on our turf?`"

Norman has stacked his 12-man team with six Australian players in a bid to capitalise on their local knowledge and boost crowd support at Royal Melbourne, the venue of the Internationals sole win in 1998.

"I know my guys are getting sick and tired of getting beaten. We won in `98 and that`s it, with another tie, and they want to win.”

"I love to hear that type of talk from my players, because when you`re an individual and you are used to winning golf tournaments and you`re not winning a certain golf tournament as a team, you want to band together very, very tightly.”

"And that`s what I`m feeling this week with my guys. They are sick of getting beaten."

The ninth Presidents Cup starts on Thursday with the opening foursome matches.

Bureau Report

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