International Team Captain Ernie Els has backed good friend Adam Scott to return to top form in time for the 2019 Presidents Cup.
The World Golf Hall of Famer, who has featured at the biennial tournament since 1996, told a teleconference this morning that Scott’s best form isn’t far away.
“Scotty, I’ve been watching him, we played a practice round together a couple of weeks ago and he’s striking the ball unbelievably,” Els said.
“He had difficulty with his short putter, he didn’t look too comfortable with that, he’s gone back to the long putter and he looks much more comfortable.
“When Scotty gets comfortable on the greens and he starts holing some, you’re really going to see him back to his best.
Scott hasn’t missed the Presidents Cup since debuting in 2003 and will break the record for the most International appearances – which he currently shares with Els and Vijay Singh (8) – should he be named to play at Royal Melbourne next December.
But the former World No.1 is no certainty of achieving that milestone.
The top-eight international players from the Official World Golf Ranking – excluding those eligible for the Ryder Cup – qualify for the International Team.
Scott is currently ranked 16th on that list and would need to be named as one of Els’ four captain’s selections to play.
But ‘The Big Easy’ is confident Scott won’t need to rely on that process.
“He’s hitting the ball as good as ever, his motivation is there and he’s playing a lot more, so that shows me that he really wants to get back to form.
“I think he’s getting a new plan going and when he gets that settled I think it also may get a lot easier for him to start performing on the golf course.
“But he’s just about there with his whole private life and on the golf course. So I’m really looking forward to seeing Scotty coming through shortly.”
Els, a four-time major champion, will become the sixth person to serve as captain for the International Team – and he is taking the responsibility very seriously.
“That’s why I’ve got this meeting in June, almost 18 months ahead of the matches,” Els said. “I want to show them how enthusiastic I am. I want to show them a lot of things that I’ve got going in my head and start debating it and getting it across to these guys.
“I’m a very competitive guy, match play was my forte, I won seven world match plays at Wentworth and I’ve been involved with the Presidents Cup for quite a bit.
“I’ve paid my dues and I want to show the guys that I really feel for them and I want to win the Cup back.”
The former World No.1 also weighed in on the anchored-putter debate, suggesting the R&A and USGA left too much of a grey area when they enforced new rules at the start of 2016.
“The way they went about changing this rule is really appalling,” said Els, who previously employed the belly putter.
“It’s amazing how they changed it all but it’s not really changed, they just say if it’s a millimetre from you, you can use it.
“If you want to take away the anchored method, then write a rule where it’s got to be the shortest club in the bag.
“Until that’s written in print in the rules, then guys can go back to that method and just keep it away from their chest.
“Whether you think it’s controversial or not, Adam Scott, these guys going back to this method are within the rules of the game, so there’s no argument there.”
The South African is set to make his tournament debut at the tri-sanctioned Fiji International in August – and he is excited about bringing his family along for the trip to Natadola Bay.
“I’ve never been to Fiji,” Els said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m taking my daughter, who’s at college, she’s coming with and my wife’s coming with so I’m really looking forward to the trip.
“I’ll do some homework on the course in Fiji. I did watch a little bit one year when the wind was blowing unbelievably, so hopefully the wind stays away a little bit. But I’ll do some homework and obviously I’ll try and find the golf course on some kind of a website.”
The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from August 2-5, 2018.