Internationals poised for turnaround

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Stuart Appleby is sick of losing to the Yanks.

Appleby, a member of the last four International teams which have gone 0-3-1 (they're 1-4-1 overall), sees this week as the Internationals' best chance.

The International team has never been deeper, it can now count on nine of the top 20 players in the world (the Americans have five).

The presence of Canadian hero Mike Weir on the International side will also give them a big home-course boost from the crowd, which started flocking to Royal Montreal yesterday for the first two days of practice.

"We need to start winning ... we have the desire," said Appleby, an Aussie who could have been talking about his individual record. He was 0-4-1 in 2005, losing on the 18th hole on Sunday to American Chris DiMarco in the deciding match.

Appleby is 1-10-1 in the last three Presidents Cups.

"That's what you remember. To be on the losing end was pretty gutting. The entire team felt like I did. I tried my best and did my best and it wasn't enough. But that makes you want to just get another gear because obviously the other side of the deal is elation."

The Internationals' only victory came in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

A win this week by the Internationals won't just be good for Appleby, Weir and the rest of the team, but good for the Presidents Cup itself.

It is viewed as the poor cousin to the Ryder Cup (USA vs. Europe). But the Ryder Cup, after decades of indifference because of American domination, didn't take off until the mid-1980s, after the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include players from Europe.

After those years of American victories being a foregone conclusion, it took three European victories beginning in 1985 to make people take notice.

"You do need to have some tight tussles," said Appleby.

The Presidents Cup is starting to get there.

The draw between the two sides in South Africa in 2003, highlighted by "The Handshake" as captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player negotiated a draw in the gathering darkness, became a significant moment.

It was preceded by a titanic battle between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els over a three-hole sudden-death playoff which was called on account of network stupidity (they wanted the matches live at a decent hour in America, so the tee times were pushed back, not leaving enough light for a prolonged playoff).

"The two best golfers in the world holing massive putts in the dark at the end -- I was watching it on TV and it would have been unbelievable to be there," said International team rookie Geoff Ogilvy. "I think that created the competitive (atmosphere). I think it's promoted itself from what started out being the poorer cousin. I think it's a pretty strong event on its own now."

TOUGHER TO MAKE TEAM

The Internationals appear poised to take a big step forward this week. Their lineup is formidable and reflects the worldwide growth of golf.

"I remember the first team I made. I may have been just inside the top 100 in the world and I was maybe the eighth guy on the team," recalled Weir. (The eighth-ranked player on the International team this time around is 18th in the world.)

"Now it's much tighter and tougher to get on this team."

Despite the fact the Americans have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, 1-2-3 in the world, the Internationals are the better team.

"I don't think the American team has gotten much better," said Appleby. "It's improved or matured, but we've come leaps and bounds.

"When you look at the 2007 team, you think, 'wow, this is way better than we ever could have dreamed of.' It's not a certainty we're going to win the next Cups because the Americans are that good, but we have the best chance from now on."


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