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Melbourne primed for more magic

By CHUAH CHOO CHIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-10 09:35
Tiger Woods celebrates on the 18th hole to win the 2019 Masters on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. [Photo/Agencies]

It's only fitting that a city many consider a global sports hub and boasting some of the world's greatest golf courses will host one of the PGA Tour's crown jewels, the Presidents Cup, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from Dec 9-15.

Melbourne is famed for being sports-crazy, and the magnificent metropolis of close to 5 million residents will be the ideal host when the Tiger Woods-led Team USA goes head-to-head with the International Team captained by South African legend Ernie Els over four days of match play drama and intrigue.

Royal Melbourne will become the only non-US venue to host the Presidents Cup for an unprecedented third time, and Els hopes it will deliver what will be just a second victory for the International Team since the event's inception in 1994.

The International's lone triumph was achieved at Royal Melbourne in 1998, which also hosted the premier team event in 2001.

Designed by acclaimed British golf architect Alistair McKenzie, whose other masterpieces include gems such as Augusta National and Cypress Point in the US, Royal Melbourne's Composite Course will present a true test to 24 of the finest American and International golfers (excluding Europe).

The best 12 holes from Royal Melbourne's West course and six of the finest from its East course make up the Composite course.

Its firm and fast conditions, coupled with large and dramatically shaped bunkers and lightning-quick greens, keep Royal Melbourne consistently among the world's top 10 golf layouts.

Els, who has won previously at Royal Melbourne and set the course record with a stunning 60 in 2004, is excited to be coming back.

"You know, it feels like my own course. It is one of my favorite courses and cities in the world," he said.

When 15-time major winner Woods visited Melbourne last December, he enthused: "We are in probably one of the greatest sporting cities in the world. Playing here is just heaven."

With tickets for the Presidents Cup now on sale and travel packages available at www.presidentscup.com, fans from around the globe have every reason to travel to Melbourne to witness a truly premier team competition while experiencing everything the vibrant city has to offer.

The city is home to many of the best-known cultural institutions in Australia, including the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, the National Gallery of Victoria and the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.

It also plays host to the Australian Grand Prix and tennis' Australian Open and Melbourne Cup.

Players currently in the running to qualify for Team USA include Dustin Johnson, three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau.

Add Phil Mickelson and recent Masters champion Woods, who looks to become the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in 1994, and the Americans have a strong mix of established stars and young talent.

International Team fans will be relying on a host of Australian players, including Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, plus the likes of reigning Australian Open champion Abraham Ancer of Mexico, South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and China's Li Haotong being in contention to win places in Els' team.

With two legendary captains leading the teams in front of enthusiastic fans, this year's Presidents Cup should prove to be one of the most historic events in Australia's golfing history.

The writer is senior director of communications for the PGA Tour and is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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