JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - The International team need an inspirational leader in the mould of Seve Ballesteros to guide them to victory over the all-powerful United States in the Presidents Cup, assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy and former PGA Tour winner Brandel Chamblee agree.
As the Internationals licked their wounds after yet another drubbing by the U.S., it might seem unrealistic to expect the proverbial knight in shining armour to emerge as a saviour for the collection of players from around the world.
But few thought until the late, great Ballesteros emerged in the 1970s that Europe could beat the U.S. in the biennial Ryder Cup.
“The U.S. had their way with Europe for 50 years,” former U.S. Open champion Ogilvy, who assisted International captain Nick Price at Liberty National, told reporters on Sunday after the U.S. had beaten the International team 19-11.
“Seve comes along and says ‘no no no no no, I’m not going to accept losing, and we’re better so we’re going to win’. They work out how to win and the U.S. is lost and they can’t win.”
American Jack Nicklaus, the most successful player ever with 18 major titles, was the catalyst for the European Ryder Cup success, urging the Britain and Ireland team to expand to include continental Europe, primarily so Spaniard Ballesteros could play.
It took three more losses, but Europe became competitive and then, in 1985, won for the first time in 28 years. They have lost at home only once since.
“Europe needed a Seve to turn it around and (in the U.S.) along came our Seve, or at least a group of Seves in Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas,” Chamblee, now a Golf Channel analyst, told Reuters.
“We found that youthful exuberance. Reed, Spieth, Thomas, all these young players grew up watching the U.S. get their hats handed to them, and they took it personally.
“We’re seeing the results of 20 years of frustration run wild and the International team is the victim.”
But, Chamblee added, the Internationals one day will find their leader, even if it is not anyone who played in the losing team at Liberty National.
“In a few years there’s going to be a new star we haven’t heard of yet and maybe he’s going to say ‘not on my watch’.“
Ogilvy, meanwhile, thinks the International team is serving as a useful tune-up for the Americans between Ryder Cups.
“Now the U.S. is a really good team and they’ve got better now at doing what Europe does and we’ve paid the price,” Ogilvy said.
The good news for the Internationals is that the next Presidents Cup in 2019 will be played at Royal Melbourne in Australia. Even though the Internationals have lost three of the five times the event has been held outside the U.S., they have been way more competitive, almost even in total points.
“I’ve done the math and playing at home is a five-point advantage,” Chamblee said, observing the Americans had won the Cup on average by more than five points at home.
On non-U.S. soil, by contrast, the Americans have won a total of 82.5 points compared to 81.5 by the Internationals.
Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond