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September 10, 2009

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Ishikawa, Scott get surprise Cup call-ups

FRED Couples opted for the expected while Greg Norman sprang two surprises when naming their selections for next month's Presidents Cup in San Francisco.

Couples chose US Open champion Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan as his wildcard selections for the US team while opposing captain Norman went for Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa and Australian Adam Scott to round off his 12-man International lineup.

Glover and Mahan, wildcard picks by Jack Nicklaus two years ago, were widely expected to be included for the Ryder Cup-style competition after finishing 11th and 13th in the final US points standings.

Scott, who has struggled for form this season, earned his surprise selection as a veteran of three Presidents Cups while 17-year-old Ishikawa gained Norman's nod after winning twice on the Japan Golf Tour in the last six weeks.

Ishikawa, one of the biggest sporting celebrities in his homeland, will become the youngest player to compete in a Presidents Cup when the Internationals take on the US from October 8-11 at Harding Park Golf Course.

"I am so honoured to be selected ... and I am very excited about the opportunity," the Japanese schoolboy said in a statement. "There are so many great players on both teams and I am humbled by my selection.

"Although I will be a bit nervous, I will do my best during the week and hopefully contribute to a victory over the American team," added Ishikawa, the first Japanese player in the Internationals lineup since Shigeki Maruyama in 2000.

In many ways, the selection of Scott was a bigger surprise than Ishikawa's. The six-time PGA Tour winner is suffering the worst year of his professional career, missing 10 cuts on the US circuit while his world ranking has plummeted to 53rd.

Past experience

"There is more than one thing you look at when selecting a player and obviously a lot has got to do with past experiences," Australian Norman said of Scott's selection on a teleconference call.

"When you look back a year ago, Adam was the No. 3 player in the world. It was a tough decision but, at the end of the day, we got a commitment out of the player. He has re-dedicated himself to more of a high degree. He's going to be ready come four weeks from now."

The US has dominated the Presidents Cup, winning five times in seven editions, including a 19-1/2 points to 14-1/2 victory at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada two years ago.

The only success for the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was staged in Melbourne. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 17-17 draw in South Africa.

Scott expressed surprise on his selection, saying that "(it's) somewhat unexpected".

"Obviously it's been a tough year but I really am humbled by them (Norman and assistant captain Frank Nobilo) picking me...that they still have the belief that I can contribute to this International team."


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