Els looking to silence home crowd
The SA golfer says Team USA will have the home-course advantage at the Presidents Cup this year.
DUBLIN, OHIO - Ernie Els believes home course advantage will greatly benefit Team USA in their quest to be crowned Presidents Cup Champions.
The 10th edition of the international match-play tournament begins today at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and Els believes the International Team will need to negate the influence of the home crowd if they are to end their 15-year wait to claim the title.
"Definitely, there's a home course advantage. Obviously the US crowd is right behind their team," Els told reporters at a press conference ahead of the tournament that features five South Africans and a Zimbabwean on the 12-man International Team.
"Anywhere you go around the world, you get your home course fans, and they can really boost you," added Els, currently ranked 68th in the world and a veteran with seven previous Presidents Cup appearances.
The 43-year-old holds the record for the most matches won by an International in the history of the Presidents Cup.
He will need to call on all his experience if the International Team is to go one better than the tie they achieved in 2003. That was the closest the International Team has come to replicating their 1998 triumph, but 'The Big Easy' feels the global golfing calendar will stand his team in good stead this time around.
"We've played around the world a lot of times. When you play in Japan you have people shouting for Japanese players. When you play in South Africa they shout for us," said Els who has been paired with rookie Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge for the first round.
The traditionally vociferous US crowd will no doubt do their utmost to put the Internationals off their game, but Els believes the best response can be delivered on the course.
"Obviously this week it will be very loud, but they can't affect the shot you play. They're quiet when you are over the shot," he added.
The Presidents Cup begins today with the first four-ball teeing off at 17:45 South African time. Els will be joined on the International team by fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Richard Sterne.
Click here to view all the updates on the Presidents Cup Golf Tournament.