Adam Scott winning The Masters
on Sunday is part of the story. But a little extra digging into the numbers shows that several golfers from south of the Equator may make the Presidents Cup a little more exciting, come October.
Obviously, Adam Scott's victory at Augusta National vaulted him to the top of the Presidents Cup standings for the International Team, which will be captained by three-time major champion Nick Price. But strong showings by several other players make things look interesting, too:
- Argentina's mighty "Duck," Angel Cabrera bumped himself up to 14th in the rankings, thanks to his outstanding play on Sunday and nearly flawless playoff. However, Cabrera's highest finish until Sunday was a T-16 at Houston, and has missed two cuts this year. If Cabrera doesn't remain in the top 15 the rest of the way out, this writer would not be surprised if Price asks "El Pato" to serve as an assistant team captain in October.
- In finishing solo third, just two strokes out of the playoff, Jason Day may well have locked up a spot already. Day finished solo third at the match play in Tucson and solo sixth two weeks earlier at Pebble Beach. A T-9 in San Diego in January helps his cause, as well. Day certainly looks strong enough to win later this year, possibly at Merion, Muirfield, or Oak Hill.
- Marc Leishman jumped out to a lead at Augusta on Thursday and hung tough the rest of the way, finishing The Masters in a tie for 4th with Tiger Woods. Leishman has steadily improved his play over the years, breaking through for his first PGA Tour win in Hartford last summer. His strong record should not be a surprise to anyone following golf and he should be in the starting line-up come October.
- Ernie Els continues to play strong, following his fourth major championship at Muirfield last July; the Big Easy finished The Masters T-13, keeping him fourth on the International points list.
- South African Tim Clark, who has been good for a very long time, tied for 11th at Augusta, bumping him from 12th to 9th on the International points list. Clark is no stranger to high-level golf in the United States, going back to his days at North Carolina State University, where he was the ACC Player of the Year in 1997. That same year, Clark captured the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. In turn, that got him invited to the 1998 Masters Tournament. Since then, he has racked up 11 professional wins worldwide, including the 2010 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
- Branden Grace is not a household name among golf fans in the United States, but he won four times on the European Tour in 2012 and finished The Masters at level par, T-18. Grace actually slipped from fifth to sixth after Sunday; barring an injury or prolonged slump, Grace is very likely to play in Columbus in October.
By the way, the only other golfer to win four times in 2012 was some guy named McIlroy.
- Although Louis Oosthuizen missed the cut, he still sits second in the rankings — and should not be ruled out of the three remaining majors in 2013. either. He currently sits second to Scott on the International ranking.
- 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel finished T-25 (+2) at Augusta. He currently sits third on the International ranking.
Three major championships remain in 2012, along with a couple of WGCs and the Players Championship next month, and a lot can happen between now and October. But with seven prospective International players having turned in such strong performances at The Masters, the 2013 Presidents Cup in October becomes something more than the lesser cousin to the Ryder Cup.
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