As a former world No.1 player and a major winner, as well as being an Australian, Day was considered a certainty even though he was not among the top eight players who qualified automatically. “He brings a lot to this team,” said the International captain. “He brings leadership, and he brings experience to the team.”
Day previously won a World Cup individual title at Royal Melbourne in 2013, so knows his way around the contours and lightning fast greens of the sandbelt.
Els had four final selections to make on Thursday and he named Day, Chilean Joaquin Niemann, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
USA captain Tiger Woods is naming his four captain’s picks on Friday, and is virtually certain to select himself on the back of his excellent return to form in Japan recently, where he won the Zozo Championship.
The Internationals have six rookies on their team now that the 20-year-old Niemann and 21-year-old Im were named on Thursday, and constitute the youngest Presidents Cup team in history.
But Els said it was not a conscious decision to go with youth, adding that the younger players had all earned their spots. “It all happened by accident, to be honest with you,” he said.
The Presidents Cup will be played from December 12-15 at Royal Melbourne’s composite course.
In 25 years of playing, the International team has only ever won the event once – at Royal Melbourne in 1998 under the late Peter Thomson’s captaincy.
International: Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), Jason Day (Aust), Marc Leishman (Aust), Cameron Smith (Aust), Adam Scott (Aust), Louis Oosthuizen, Haotong Li (China), CT Pan (Taiwan), Abraham Ancer (Mexico), Joaquin Niemann (Chile), Adam Hadwin (Canada), Sungjae Im (South Korea).
USA: Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau (four captain’s picks to be named).
Martin Blake is a Sports production journalist and writer for The Age.