International team rallying around only Presidents Cup win

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U.S. team player and captain Tiger Woods, left, and teammate Justin Thomas celebrate after Woods birdied the 5th during their fourball match at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in the opening rounds of the President's Cup golf tournament in Melbourne, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

MELBOURNE – Ernie Els wanted to inspire his International team at the Presidents Cup, and he found the one video that might do the trick.

Then again, there wasn't a lot to choose from.

Els is the lone person on this team, including his four assistants, who was at Royal Melbourne in 1998 for the only International victory. They took the lead after the opening session and never were challenged the rest of the way. At the time, it was the biggest loss an American team had ever endured.

“I watched a couple times because I love it,” said C.T. Pan, one of seven rookies on the International team who certainly didn't play like one Thursday. “It's been 21 long years. I know it's day one, we still have a lot of work to do. That video definitely pumped and excited everyone on the International team.”

It sure looked that way.

Tiger Woods did his part, at least as a player. The first playing captain in 25 years, he opened with two birdies for a 2-up lead and finished with two more birdies as he and Justin Thomas won the opening fourballs match at Royal Melbourne.

And then he resumed his role as captain and watched the International team post one victory after another, hitting all the right shots in the two matches that went to the 18th hole.

When it was over, the International team had a 4-1 lead, its first time in front since 2005.