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Presidents Cup stars Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama begin 2022 in style

Hideki Matsuyama poses with the trophy after winning the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. Picture: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Hideki Matsuyama poses with the trophy after winning the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. Picture: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Published Jan 18, 2022

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Johannesburg - The Presidents Cup may only be in September, but the international team will be brimming with confidence after their players won the first two events on the US PGA Tour of 2022.

Australian Cameron Smith won the Tournament of Champions two weeks ago in Hawaii, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama triumphed at the Sony Open, also in Hawaii, over the weekend.

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Smith with his victory, set a new US PGA Tour scoring record of 34-under courtesy of rounds of 65 64 64 65 on the par-73 layout.

The previous record of 31-under on the PGA Tour was held by another international star - Ernie Els of South Africa. Els was a top performer in The Presidents Cup and famously went head-to-head with American sensation Tiger Woods in 2003 at The Links at Fancourt in a playoff, when the trophy was shared between the two sides as the duo could not be separated when darkness descended. Els also captained the Internationals in 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Matsuyama won in Hawaii, beating American Russell Henley in a playoff to take the title. The win meant Matsuyama rose eight spots in the world rankings to 10th, as he rounds into form ahead of his title defence at The Masters in April.

The Presidents Cup team will be comprised of the top eight players on the International Team points list, with captain Trevor Immelman then making four special selections to complete his 12-player team.

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Smith currently tops the International team rankings, followed by Matsuyama. South Korea’s Sungjae Im is third, with SA’s Louis Oosthuizen fourth.

Another up-and-coming player is SA’s Erik van Rooyen. After consecutive top-25 finishes in the two PGA Tour events in Hawaii, the 31-year-old holds seventh position on the International Team standings after narrowly missing out on selection for the 2019 event.

The current form of the International team’s top players is an encouraging sign in the matchplay competition that has been dominated by the United States of America. Since the Presidents Cup began in 1994, the USA has won 11 events, lost one and tied one.

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The 2022 event will be held at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina from September 19 to 25.

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