Norman eyeing locals to sink U.S. in Presidents Cup
(Reuters) - International team captain Greg Norman insists his two remaining picks for the Presidents Cup will be determined by form rather than nationality, but would have little hesitation picking two more Australians if it meant boosting the home crowd edge.
Ten of the 12 places for November's tournament between the United States and the non-European Internationals have been decided on points following Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship, with three Australians already in the mix.
World number seven Jason Day, 10th-ranked Adam Scott and former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy will fly the home flag at the tournament's return to Royal Melbourne, the venue for the Internationals' sole victory over the Americans in 1998.
"First of all, I'm picking the player not picking the flag, number one," he told reporters in a conference call.
"How they've been in the last 90-100 days is important to me.
"Obviously if you focus on the flag behind the player's name, you need crowd favorites, people who can pull the crowd in and get the crowd going for you, so we'd like to have that because we really didn't have that at San Francisco.
"If you look at it that way, yes, you'd like to have two Australians on there."
The United States won their sixth out of eight editions of the biennial tournament at San Francisco in 2009, with Tiger Woods sinking the winning putt to cap off a dominant week.
Norman has previously gone with home-town sentiment, controversially selecting Scott for the 2009 tournament despite the Australian struggling in a huge form slump at the time.
While conceding that Fijian former world number one Vijay Singh was on his short-list, Norman touted world number 55 Robert Allenby and 56th-ranked Aaron Baddeley for their knowledge of local conditions.
"(Allenby's) a Royal Melbourne lover. He plays that golf course extremely well. He knows the way the golf course plays.
"(Baddeley's) in the cross-hairs, no question about it... Conditions-wise, his ball-flight is very very suited to that golf course and he putts well."
Norman was one of four Australians in the team for the Internationals' triumph in 1998 and said he would enjoy passing on his intimate knowledge of the famous sand-belt course to his players.
"What (1998) did for the Presidents Cup was huge and I think a victory now, this November, would also be huge if the Internationals team did it," he added.
"It's not going to be easy, that's for sure. It's going to be more of a tougher battle than last time at Royal Melbourne.
"With that being said, I think the guys are probably as inspired as what we were leading into 1998."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Ossian Shine)