MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Factbox on the International team for the 13th biennial Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne from Dec. 12-15:
Captain: Ernie Els
Assistant captains: K.J. Choi, Trevor Immelman, Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Weir
Wins: 1 (1998)
Losses: 10 (2017, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005, 2000, 1996, 1994)
Ties: 1 (2003)
Last result: Lost 19-11 to the United States team at Liberty National, New Jersey, in 2017.
Players: (including Presidents Cup record – wins, losses, halves)
Hideki Matsuyama (4-6-3)
Adam Scott (14-20-5)
Louis Oosthuizen (7-5-3)
Marc Leishman (3-7-3)
Abraham Ancer (debut)
Li Haotong (debut)
Cameron Smith (debut)
C.T. Pan (debut)
Im Sung-jae (debut)
Joaquin Niemann (debut)
Adam Hadwin (0-2-1)
An Byeong-hun (debut)
Australia’s first Masters champion will tee off for the ninth time in the tournament, a record for the International team, and is desperate to “stick it to Tiger” and be on the winning side for once.
Failing to make the cut at the Australian Open in Sydney over the weekend was hardly ideal preparation, so he will need to bounce back quickly to lead from the front at Royal Melbourne.
While boasting one of the smoothest swings in the game, Scott’s putting has often let him down so he will hope his iron play is dialed to make life easier on the sandbelt course’s fast greens.
Young talent Niemann will become the first Chilean to represent the nation at the tournament, having recently become the first to win on the U.S. tour when he claimed a six-shot victory at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.
He will join Ryo Ishikawa, Jordan Spieth and International team mates Hideki Matsuyama and Im Sung-jae as one of only five to play a Presidents Cup before their 22nd birthday,
Niemann celebrated his 21st birthday a month ago but has already declared he wants a marquee match-up with Tiger Woods at Royal Melbourne, declaring the American great has more to lose than him.
The tall and burly South Korean will make his Presidents Cup debut as a late replacement for Australian Jason Day, who was forced to withdraw because of a back injury.
The son of Olympic medal-winning table tennis players, An has been a talent to watch since he became the youngest U.S. Amateur winner at the age of 17 in 2009.
His career has been steady rather than spectacular, and erratic putting has cost him at times, but the 28-year-old is coming off his best season with three top-10 finishes and a top-20 at the U.S. Open.
Taiwan’s first Presidents Cup player was raised in humble circumstances. As a child, he would rise before dawn to sneak in nine holes at a local golf club before the clubhouse opened.
His family made huge sacrifices to send him to the IMG Academy in Florida as a 15-year-old and later to play college golf at the University of Washington.
The 28-year-old paid them back in April when he became only the second Taiwanese to win on the U.S. Tour with his breakthrough victory at the Heritage Classic at Hilton Head.
Along with Scott, former British Open champion Oosthuizen is the other seasoned Presidents Cup campaigner who needs to fire early at Royal Melbourne to give the team’s seven debutants hope they can derail the U.S. machine.
While more than a few Internationals players have ugly records against the mighty Americans, Oosthuizen has held his own.
The 37-year-old South African was their best performer at the Liberty National horror show two years ago and has won 56 percent of his Presidents Cup matches across his three tournaments.
Compiled by Hardik Vyas and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Ransom