International captain Ernie Els will have no say in the set-up of Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup but still thinks his knowledge of a venue where he holds the course record can help his players.
The powerful United States team for the December 9-15 event will clearly be the stronger on paper and the Internationals will need every advantage they can possibly muster to prevail for the first time since 1998.
In the Ryder Cup, the home team captain dictates the course set-up to favour his team but in the PGA Tour-owned and operated Presidents Cup, the American-based organisation, calls the shots.
South African Els said he was able to successfully negotiate with the Tour several things he wanted, including the International team being chosen from a points list based over one year instead of two to reward more recent form.
Other issues, however, proved non-negotiable.
"The course is going to be set up by the tournament officials and that's a great shame because it's such a great course," he told Reuters.
"I could have given my input though my years of playing down there and ... tried to set it up to benefit our players.
"I did bring it up at our meetings but I was voted down and that's the way it is. It's not a big issue."
RIGHT: Els holds the course record on the composite layout. PHOTO: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images.
In 2004, Els shot 12 under-par 60 on the composite layout that is made up of 12 holes from the west course and six from the east.
Even if the course set-up is out of his control, Els still hopes to give his players an edge.
"I've got a blueprint to play that course because I've played it so well in the past," he said.
"We're doing a lot of planning and getting the players into the mindset of the golf course even before we get there, so they'll have a good image and a strategy to play the golf course."
Els is likely to lead a very different roster from that which suffered an all too familiar shellacking at the hands of the Americans at Liberty National in New Jersey two years ago.
Only five of the 12 players on that team – Australians Adam Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman, South African Louis Oosthuizen and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama – are likely to be among the eight automatic qualifiers this time.
Els will also make four captain's picks to take on the Tiger Woods-led Americans.
The International team, comprised of players from outside the US and Europe, have won the event only once in its 12 stagings.
That was at Royal Melbourne 21 years ago, with the Americans also tasting victory at the venue in 2011.
- Andrew Both, Reuters