DUBLIN, Ohio — Adam Scott was in the middle of the chaos in South Africa as darkness fell.
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, in a sudden-death playoff to decide the 2003 Presidents Cup, halved three straight holes and could barely see the last two putts fall. Both teams and captains were on the second green at Fancourt when a tie was proposed. That's when U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus reminded International captain Gary Player that the Americans would retain the cup as the defending champion.
"Let's keep playing!" Scott demanded over the din.
He was 23, two months removed from his first PGA Tour win, in his first Presidents Cup. The burst of emotion got the attention of his teammates. The teams eventually agreed to share the cup, and Scott would not have guessed it would be as close as he would get to being on the winning team.
The 10th edition of the Presidents Cup starts today, and the odds do not exactly favor the International team.
It has seven rookies, and though all but Hideki Matsuyama have played a fair amount on the PGA Tour this year, Scott is the only team member to have won.
The American team is regarded as one of the strongest ever. All 12 players are among the top 30 in the world ranking. The matches are at Muirfield Village, where Woods has won five times and Matt Kuchar won in June. The Americans have never lost the Presidents Cup on home soil.
"I understand that and how it looks on paper," Scott said Wednesday. "It's hard to write off guys who are top 60 in the world, because on any given day, anyone can beat anyone. And we've seen that a million times, especially in 18-hole match play. Yeah, I see how that looks.
"I also see seven guys here for the first time pumped up and ready to go. And I think that's giving me a great feeling about a new experience in the Presidents Cup after having a run of really big defeats."
The Presidents Cup gets started with Jason Day and Graham DeLaet taking on Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker in the first of six fourball matches. Scott is taking the youngest player on the International team — 21-year-old Matsuyama — as his partner against Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.
Els is the veteran of this International team. But when the younger players talk about the week and the importance of winning, Scott's name always gets mentioned.
"Scotty is really determined," said Marc Leishman, who will partner with Angel Cabrera against Woods and Matt Kuchar. "He has not been on a winning side. Ernie has been vocal, as well; Angel, too. All the experienced guys are really motivated and determined to win. Think they are getting sick of being on the wrong end of this competition."