By Andrew Both
(Reuters) – A burning desire to avenge his previous Presidents Cup nightmare will drive Adam Hadwin at this week’s tournament against the mighty Americans at Royal Melbourne.
Hadwin was part of an outclassed International team handed an eight-point shellacking by the United States in New Jersey two years ago.
He eked out a half-point in partnership with Hideki Matsuyama in alternate-shot foursomes at Liberty National and lost his other two matches.
Els, however, has kept faith in the Canadian, whose accurate driving and agreeable personality helped earn one of the four captain’s picks on offer.
“After the proverbial butt-kicking we took two years ago, the only thing I’ve thought about is coming out and gaining 15-and-a-half points,” Hadwin said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
“From a perspective of being around these guys, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. But getting drummed like we did was a bit of a slap in the face.
“How are we going to turn the tide on what has been an American beat-down on us since the Presidents Cup started?
“We need to flip the script. We need to win each individual session and if we can do that we will take home the Cup.”
Easier said than done, perhaps, but Hadwin is hopeful, even confident, that the efforts made by Els to engender a team spirit will pay dividends.
Hadwin said Els had focused all year on ensuring the Internationals will not be strangers when they arrive on tournament week.
That is no easy task given the disparate cultures and languages for a collection of players from every continent except Europe.
“I think Ernie has done a great job from the very beginning of getting us together as a large group,” Hadwin said.
“He has helped to get us on the same page, get us more familiar with each other, playing practice rounds together throughout the year, just introducing ourselves to each other because sometimes the toughest thing we have to overcome is really not knowing each other that well.”
Hadwin has won just once on the PGA Tour but has played with machine-like consistency during his five seasons on the biggest stage, racking up top-25 finishes in nearly a third of his tournaments.
His “all-around great game”, in the words of Els, should be a great recipe for match play.
Hadwin has played in Melbourne a couple of times, though not at Royal Melbourne.
But his experiences at the nearby Kingston Heath and Metropolitan courses have given him a taste of “sandbelt” golf, and he has been watching footage of the 2011 tournament at Royal Melbourne which the U.S. won by four points.
The lone International victory in 12 stagings of the event came at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
“Certainly the Americans can be beat,” said Hadwin.
“They have a great team, full of star-studded players but at the same time we have some of the best players in the world as well, and it’s just going to be a matter of who’s ready to play and who’s going to make the crucial putts when needed.
“I believe if we can make some of those putts early and win a few more matches early and head into the afternoon on Saturday with the lead, I think we’ve got a really good chance of taking home the Cup this year.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ian Ransom)