ZIMBABWEAN golf legend Nick Price will once again have the honour of meeting another sitting United States president. he is scheduled to meet with Donald Trump ahead of this year’s edition of the biennial Presidents Cup competition.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 60-year-old former world number one and winner of three major golf championships at the Open in 1994 and the PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994, will captain the International Presidents Cup team for the third time in New Jersey, USA from September 26 to October 1.
Price, one of Zimbabwe’s greatest sportsmen of all time, together with Steve Stricker, captain of the US team, are expected to meet with Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC, before traditionally posing for pictures with the Presidents Cup trophy.
It will be Price’s second visit to the White House in the last three years, after his maiden visit in 2013 when he met with the former US president Barack Obama in his first stint as captain of the International Presidents Cup team.
Price went on to meet and pose for pictures with another former US president George Bush on the sidelines of the 2015 Presidents Cup competition in South Korea.
Trump will serve as the honorary chairman of the biennial match-play bout between 12 players from the USA and 12 players from the rest of the world, excluding Europe.
Last week, Trump, a known golf fanatic, accepted an invitation to be honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup.
“It is a great honour for me to be even a small part of the Presidents Cup,” Trump said last week in a statement released on the Presidents Cup website. “I have watched it since the very first tournament in 1994. It gets better with age. This will be the greatest of them all.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said they were honoured to have Trump as the honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup.
“We’re honoured to have President Trump join a long list of world leaders who have accepted this role, especially as we embark on our first playing in the New York Metropolitan area,” he said.
“We look forward to him being involved in the event in any capacity his schedule allows.”
Trump is part of a distinguished group of 10 world leaders who have previously held the position of honorary chairman at the Presidents Cup together with Gerald R Ford (1994), George HW Bush (1996), John Howard (1998), William Jefferson Clinton (2000), Thabo Mbeki (2003), George W Bush (2005) Stephen Harper (2007), Barack Obama (2009 and 2013), Julia Gillard (2011) and Park Geun-hye (2015).
Price, who is captaining the international squad for the third competition on a roll, has also competed for the team five times since making his first appearance in 1994.
He will be assisted by fellow Zimbabwean Tony Johnstone, South African Ernie Els and Australian Geoff Ogilvy.
Price also rewarded his long standing caddie, South African Tiger Lekhulene by naming him the caddie captain of the International team for this year’s Presidents Cup.
His opposite number, Stricker will be joined by Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and triumphant US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III as assistants.
The United States has won the Presidents Cup nine times in its 11 editions, most recently by 15-1/2 points to 14-1/2 in South Korea last year.
However, Price reckons his charges have a strong chance of ending the American dominance.
Price will be looking to his top ranked duo of Jason Day and Adam Scott to lead from the front, although the Australian stars have slipped down the world rankings and remain winless in 2017.
The pair still remain the second and third best players on the International team behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.
Captain Price said both need to be at their best if his team is to taste victory for only the second time since 1998.
“The top five on our team haven’t played their best in recent months,” Price said ahead of this weekend’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
“So hopefully, they’ll start really getting their games into shape now.
“There’s so much to play for between now and the Presidents Cup. They just need that little bit of momentum going into that week.”