Richard Sterne is perhaps the most obscure player of the 24 in competition this week, even to dedicated golf fans who follow the game. The South African plays almost exclusively on the Euro Tour, occasionally popping up in the States for WGC events or a major.
Sterne had also been off the golf map for four years until he got hot early this season, playing a two-to-three week stretch as maybe the best golfer in the world given his scores back in the first quarter of the season. After finishing solo second at the Dubai Desert Classic in February, Sterne blew out the Euro Tour field on home soil to capture the Joburg Open. No one was really close, and he finished 27-under to get his first victory since 2008.
This February stretch officially put his name in the mix for the Presidents Cup, and he rocketed up the World Rankings almost 100 spots to hover around the top 50. Injuries, specifically to his back, have repeatedly plagued his career, preventing any sort of consistent form. He added a top 10 at the Volvo Match Play and finished second at the French Open, but never really contended at the majors or WGC events.
He did, however, bring that February form to the WGC Match Play in Arizona this year and upset No. 3 seed Jason Dufner. Hunter Mahan, the defending champ and eventual 2013 runner-up, bounced him convincingly in the second round but that experience could pay off as those are two guys he could face in the same format again this week.
Sterne is a world-class player, but he's probably going to be one of the first choices to have a seat on the bench for International captain Nick Price during the two Saturday sessions. He's capable of hanging with everyone else in Columbus, especially with his play this year, but there are too many other well decorated Internationals, and South Africans, ahead of him on the roster. He'll likely partner with one of the other South Africans and maybe he catches some unsuspecting American duo off guard.
World Ranking: 39
Qualified: Automatic spot No. 9 of 10
Presidents Cup Match Play Record: This is his debut.