The mixed form of International players during the first two rounds of the Australian Open won’t influence captain Ernie Els to change his mind on pairings for the matches.
Nor will he budge on possible pairing combinations on the back of speculation playing captain Tiger Woods will line up in four of the five matches at Royal Melbourne.
Els, who already has most of his fourball and foursomes combinations sitting in notes on his mobile phone, said he is not concerned about two of his six players missing the cut at The Australian as he has taken a long term view on his team make-up.
“I’ve picked guys who have played well for a long term,” said Els, who missed the cut at The Australian Golf Cub after rounds of 72-77.
“One week or one round is not going to change anything in my view. The guys are quality players, they’ve made great strides in making the team and I believe in them. If they have a bad round or a bad tournament, it’s not changing my view on that.”
Els will have no worries about the form of fellow South African Louis Oosthuizen, who added a five under 66 to his opening 68 to be tied for second place through two rounds.
Marc Leishman is also lurking near the first page of the leaderboard with rounds of 69-67 to be four shots behind 36-hole leader and 2015 Australian Open Champion, Matt Jones.
Leishman is tied for 12th with the next best placed International teammate being the defending champion Abraham Ancer. The Mexican looked like missing the cut midway through his second round but he went five under for his last six holes, including an 18th hole eagle, to card a 66 and is five under.
Dual Australian PGA Champion Cameron Smith was on track to make a run at the leaders making it to six under for the tournament through 10 holes before disaster struck at the par-3 11th hole. A miscued tee shot bounced off a concrete cart path and finished in an unplayable lie in knee high grass well left and high above the green. He took a penalty and trudged back to the tee to play his third shot, which also finished in the long grass. The resulting triple bogey six, which included holing a 10-foot putt, saw him drop back to be within view of the cut line. Two birdies and a lone bogey over his final seven holes saw the Queenslander sign for a one over 72 and he will play the weekend.
Smith said he thinks he’s playing better than his two under total would suggest.
“It’s just a big weekend. I just have to make no more mistakes like that (the triple bogey),” said Smith, who is eight shots adrift of the lead. “I actually played really solid on the front nine and missed a few opportunities.
“It kind of wasn’t my day with the putter. If those putts go in and we’re standing here one or two off the lead. It is what it is.”
Tournament favourite Adam Scott and Chinese Taipei’s C.T Pan both missed the cut despite both carding sub-par second rounds. Pan improved by five shots to record a two under 69, while Scott finished one shot shy of playing the weekend after bettering his opening round 75 by eight shots. His 67 could easily have been a 64 after he hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation but tallied 31 putts for the round.
When asked about Woods only sitting out one session of the Presidents Cup and how this might impact his pairing selections, Els stood firm.
“What kind of news is this?” Els smiled. “Where do you get your reporting from? Anyway, whatever happens, I can’t worry about what they’re doing, I’m worried about what we’re doing.
“If he plays a lot, he plays a lot. It doesn’t really change anything. It’s a point per match and that’s what we’re focused on, trying to get as many points as we can.”
It is understood Scott and Pan were looking to arrive at Royal Melbourne over the weekend and possibly play a Sunday afternoon practice round with Els, International team assistant captains Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Weir, who both missed the Open cut.