Lone S. Korean to sit out opening foursomes session at Presidents Cup

October 7, 2015
Bae Sang-moon (AP)

Bae Sang-moon (AP)

INCHEON (Yonhap) — Bae Sang-moon, the lone South Korean at this year’s Presidents Cup, will sit out the opening foursomes session Thursday.

The United States and the International Teams on Wednesday announced their pairings for the five foursome matches to tee off at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, just west of Seoul.

Bae was one of two International players left out, along with ailing Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, as captain Nick Price opted to send out Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama as his first tandem. The U.S. Team, captained by Jay Haas, will counter with Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes.

The other pairings are: Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace for the International Team versus Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed; Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee for the Internationals against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker; Jason Day and Steven Bowditch for the International side versus Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson; Danny Lee and Marc Leishman for the Internationals against Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.

For the U.S. Team, Bill Haas, son of the captain, and Chris Kirk will sit out the foursomes.

The total number of matches was reduced from 34 to 30 this year, with five foursome matches on Thursday and five four-ball matches on Friday. That means at least two players on each of the first two days will have to watch from outside the ropes.

Bae made the Presidents Cup for the first time. He finished 19th in the International Team points standings but Price made him one of his captain’s picks given his good track record at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, where Bae has won a Korean tour event in 2013 and 2014.

“I felt kind of bad I had to bench Moon,” Price said, referring to Bae by his nickname. “But I didn’t want to split any of the pairings that played well together yesterday (in practice).”

South Korean fans will still have someone to root for in Danny Lee, who was born in Seoul but now represents New Zealand. Lee will also be playing in the Presidents Cup for the first time, and he has the tall task of going up against Spieth, the No. 1 player in the world.

Price explained that Schwarzel has “a really bad bug” and was bedridden Wednesday morning.

“I really felt that he probably needs an extra day to get some strength back,” Price said. “So I think the doctor saw him yesterday and he’s going to see him again today. I think it’s just some virus that he’s got. I certainly hope that he’s going to be in shape by Friday. But I don’t know. I’m going to take that day-by-day.”

Choi Kyoung-ju, the South Korean vice captain for Price, revealed that the leadership put together practice pairings Tuesday with the foursomes in mind. They also had a friendly bet on which tandem would score the best, and said Bae and Schwarzel won it.

Choi said it was unfortunate that Schwarzel came down with the bug because of how well he and Bae had played as a unit.

“Sang-moon and Charl were the best team for us (in practice), and we’d expected them to be so all along,” Choi added. “I think the mood in the team room is great. We have some really good teams out there.”

Bae said he accepted the captain’s decision and will continue to work hard for his opportunity to come.

“It’s disappointing not to be out there playing because I am in great form,” he said. “I will practice hard this afternoon and will be cheering the team on tomorrow.”

Price said there were “some automatics for us” in pairings, while Haas said his 10 players “were pretty set.”

With the United States Team having won eight of the 10 Presidents Cups so far and fielded another stacked squad this year, the first day could make or break the International Team’s chances of turning the table.

Price said he’d want to win all five matches Thursday. Choi sounded a tad more optimistic.

“I think on paper, the teams will be evenly matched,” Choi said. “It’d be great to win but I think we’d be happy with a 2 1/2-2 1/2 tie.”