HIDEKI Matsuyama is the top-placed Asian in the Presidents Cup International Team and seems set to be joined Haotong Li of China and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan when they clash with the United States at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from Dec 9 to 15.
The Japan star is second behind Australia’s Marc Leishman and ahead of South African Louis Oosthuizen in third place in the standings, with Adam Scott moving up to fourth after his runner-up finish at the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour.
Li and Pan are fifth and sixth in the Presidents Cup rankings, which allows for the top-eight to qualify automatically for the team.
Four other players will be selected by captain Ernie Els. Tiger Woods is captain of the US team.
Asia also has Sung Kang of South Korea and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond in the top-12. The former is 11th at the moment while Jazz is 12th. A good run of form ahead of the event could see them emerge as captain’s picks even if they don’t make it into the top-eight.
Shugo Imahira of Japan is 14th and South Korean Si Woo Kim is 15th. And they too could play themselves into the equation with a bit of good form.
Scott, an eight-time Presidents Cup representative, is in a fine position to set an International Team record of nine appearances. He has competed in each event since 2003 and has been an automatic qualifier with the exception of 2009 when he was one of Greg Norman’s captain’s picks.
“For sure, everything I’ve been doing is moving in the right direction and the biggest thing I’d love is for this to be a home game as far as the crowd is concerned” said Scott in the Golf Australia Inside the Ropes podcast.
“That would help us out tremendously. If we can just somehow make them (US Team) feel a little bit uncomfortable, that would be really good.”
Four Australians are in line for one of the eight automatic spots that has an Aug 19 cutoff. Along with Leishman and Scott, Cameron Smith is seventh and Jason Day number eight.
Patrick Cantlay climbed from ninth to No. 6 in the US team standings following his victory in the Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club. The 27-year-old looks a solid bet for a top-eight spot on the defending champions’ roster.
His win comes on the back of eight top-10 finishes in 14 starts - including a runner’s-up purse at the Shriners Hospitals of Children Open. He was tied for third at the PGA Championship. The top-five on the American team remained unchanged with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Matt Kuchar retaining their positions in that order.
US captain Woods bounced back from his missed cut at the PGA Championship with a tie for ninth at the Memorial Tournament. That effort lifted him one spot up to 10th in the standings.
Jordan Spieth’s third consecutive top-10 finish, achieved at the Memorial saw him move five places up the standings to 28th. He has a Presidents Cup record of 8-5-1 and a perfect 5-0-0 in the foursomes.