Aussies to miss Internationals skipper Els

South African great Ernie Els is to stand down as captain of the International team at the Presidents Cup for the 2021 event.

08-Feb-2020 By Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press
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Australian golf stars Marc Leishman and Jason Day say Ernie Els will be "sorely missed" as Presidents Cup captain after the South African great confirmed he would step aside as leader of the International team.

Four-time major winner Els revealed he would not continue as skipper for the 2021 Presidents Cup, despite giving the underdog side their best chance in 20 years of toppling the American team at Royal Melbourne in December.

Els guided the International team to a two-point lead over a Tiger Woods-led US side going into the final day, but the Internationals squandered key matches en route to a 16-14 loss.

Victorian Leishman said he relished winning two points for Els at Royal Melbourne.

"I loved playing under Ernie; he was one of my idols growing up," Leishman told AAP of his fourth appearance for the Internationals.

"What he did with our team was incredible. He was very hands on and specific with his strategy. It certainly worked."

Day withdrew injured before Royal Melbourne but remarked that Els' enthusiasm was infectious during the 18-month lead up.

"I think it's going to be a huge loss not to see Ernie come back," Day said. "It would have been great for me to play under him, but I know how involved he was and how much passion he showed in the team meetings.

"I could hear it in his voice and I could see how much work he put in to try and get the win."

The 2021 Cup will be at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina but it is not clear whether 15-time major winner Woods will return as US captain.

It is believed South Africa's Trevor Immelman, who was a vice-captain at Royal Melbourne, will take the International reigns in 2021.

It is then expected Canadian Mike Weir will skipper in 2023 - the next time the International team hosts - because the PGA Tour is likely to take the biennial event to Montreal.

Five-time US PGA Tour winner Leishman hopes that whoever succeeds Els will adopt some of his strategies, including the use of analytical data to determine team pairings as opposed to grouping countrymen together.

"You'd hope the next captain will use some of the philosophies Ernie put forward," Leishman said. "The next captain is never going to do things identically to Ernie, but there is now a good foundation to go from."

On Tuesday, Els told the golf blog 'Morning Read': "There is is so much of me that wants to do it, but I know the hardest thing is to step away.

"That's as good as I can do ... I gave it all. I get one opportunity, win or lose. You don't get a second chance."

The South African spent two years trying to make his International players - from countries from everywhere outside Europe - feel more like a team.

Among his biggest change was ditching the PGA Tour-branded flag and creating his own logo for the International team.

The Americans now have an 11-1-1 lead in the Presidents Cup, having won the last eight times.


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