15 Dec 2019, 12:22 IST
International captain Ernie Els expressed pride with his young team after they almost upstaged “one of the greatest golf teams of all time” at the Presidents Cup.
Els’ Internationals were unable to maintain their 10-8 lead in Sunday’s singles, beaten 16-14 by defending champions the United States in Melbourne.
It was a USA onslaught at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, where Tiger Woods’ team scored a record-equalling eight points to prevent the Internationals from claiming a first Presidents Cup since 1998.
The USA became the first team in history to win the Presidents Cup after trailing prior to the final round as the Internationals threatened to dethrone their star-studded opponents.
Despite falling short, Els – whose team featured seven debutants – told a news conference: “It’s been an incredible week…The players were just incredible. They were open for a new formula, so to speak, and embraced what I said to them, and you know, here we are. You know, we lost 16-14, and we’ve got to swallow that.
U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A
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“But great strides were made, especially in our team play. I really felt that our team play was really the core of our team, and that never was. We never felt like we could play foursomes or four-ball together as a team. We did that well.
“Before the week started, we had a plan to get to 10 points by Saturday evening. So that’s why we were so excited yesterday, losing 3-1, because we knew we got to 10 points. I could have made different choices in the singles today. I can take it on my shoulders. It is what it is.
“The questions will come from you guys and the public that I made mistakes in the selection of where I put my players, but I followed a plan from 100 per cent, and it didn’t quite work out, but we came damn close.
“I think the US team, and I think you guys, and I think the people around the world will look at these guys in a different way. I think you guys have seen what can happen. If you compare our team on paper with other teams in other sport, you would have laughed us out of the building. But we gave it a hell of a go and we came mightily close to winning and upsetting one of the greatest golf teams of all time.
“If you look at their record and where these guys are at the moment, they are going places; I can tell you that. We do have major champion winners up here. We do have number ones, former number ones, but we also have had guys playing for the first time, and I can only see their future going in a great manner.
“It was wonderful serving with them, and it’s going to be tough. We’ve got to fly a long ways to get home. It’s going to be tough to swallow but we do have a great sense of humour in our team. It won’t be long before you see the music or hear the music playing in our team room. Nobody died out there, and it was a sport, and we gave it our all. So, so be it.”
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