Ernie Els back for 8th Presidents Cup, will lead International team yet again

David Cannon

The Big Easy has been around forever, but he still remains the International team's best shot to produce points.

While Adam Scott is the undisputed top player of the International team, it's Ernie Els who remains the team leader. He's not an original article like Phil Mickelson, who's played in every Presidents Cup, but Els is the one constant on the International side. The Big Easy was the kind of player emerging in the early-to-mid-90s who prompted the creation of this event and made it seem like a good idea. Els, unfortunately, has been on the other end of six losses in his seven appearances, but he does personally have a winning record after playing in all five sessions each and every time he's on the team.

Els, of course, is more than an honorary symbol even though he's been around so long. He was still No. 4 in points, with Scott, Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel the only players to qualify ahead of him. Ernie's godfather status means he's played with almost everyone on the team already, aside from the rookies. And because he's the Big Easy, captain Nick Price can pair him with just about anyone and he'll probably, in fact, opt to put him with a rookie for many of the two-man games. That kind of flexibility isn't necessarily the case with ... say, some of the American veterans that you might know.

Even at age 43, Els is still in world-class form and one of the International players who can match resumes with anyone, save Tiger, on the American side. He was solid at three of the four majors this year, backing up his British win in 2012. The anchoring ban may create some obstacles for him in the future, but it's unlikely his form completely falls off and he should be making at least one more Presidents Cup appearance after this edition.

Els is actually in better form now than in the past couple Presidents Cups, the improved putting being the key. That's obviously where most matches are won and lost in this format -- the ability to drain birdies or save pars from the moderate distances, seven to 12 feet. So he's as much of a leader as the captain Price, but he's also right there with Scott in terms of ability to put points on the board.

World Ranking: 23

Qualified: Automatic spot No. 4 of 10

Presidents Cup Match Play Record: 17-16-2 (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011)

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