“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win. That’s a hard thing to put on anyone,” the three-time major winner from Zimbabwe said Tuesday. “But this one needs to be competitive.”
The Americans own a 7-1-1 edge in the Ryder Cup-styled rivalry against the non-European golfers and have won the past four in a row by margins of three to five points.
The tournament is set to start at Muirfield Village, site of the US PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament on Thursday.
“The last four Presidents Cups, I honestly believe they haven’t been that competitive,” said Price.
“Maybe it’s harder for us to be more united as a team… I don’t believe that for one minute. We all don’t like getting beaten. This is, to all of us, a really big week.”
And the Americans are not taking their foes lightly, US captain Fred Couples said.
“It’s intense,” Couples said. “Guys are not running around laughing and giggling when they hit poor shots. They are all competitors. They are all trying as hard as they can. They are ready to go and they are excited.”
Price noted how the Europeans rallied last year on the final day to win the Ryder Cup after the Americans appeared to have sealed victory entering the concluding singles matches.
“The team side is so important, and momentum,” Price said. “We saw in the Ryder Cup the US played fantastic the first two days and then there was momentum on the European side on Sunday.
“So how do you create that? I think you create that through great team spirit.”
The Americans, with seven of the top 11 players in the world rankings, boast world number one Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion and the PGA Player of the Year after five titles this season.
Woods has won the Memorial five times and likely will be paired with low-key 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and veterans Steve stricker and Matt Kuchar in foursomes and four-ball matches over the first three days.
“Steve Stricker will probably play with him a little bit, Matt Kuchar is out there playing (a practice round) with him, and Dufner,” Couples said.
Do not expect to see third-ranked Phil Mickelson, the reigning British Open champion and second-highest rated US player, alongside Woods after a nightmare 2004 Ryder Cup pairing in a losing cause.
“Phil, probably not, but Keegan (Bradley) and Phil are a good team together,” Couples said.
Other US players include Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who this year became the first teen winner of a US PGA event since 1931.
Both teams have a questionable player. Zach Johnson only arrived Tuesday due to illness and South African Louis Oosthuizen returned only last week from neck and back injuries. But each captain says his man is fine.
“He is doing OK,” Couples said of Johnson. “He’s ready to go.”
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, will be bolstered by playing alongside friend and countryman Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion.
“He’s 100 percent,” Price said of “Oosty”. “He’s going to be ready. Being out with Charl, they will probably feed off each other.”
One good sign for the Internationals was that the players, including veterans Ernie Els and Adam Scott and seven newcomers to the Presidents Cup, knew who they wanted to play alongside in pairs matches.
“They were pretty sure who they wanted to play with,” said Price. “That makes my job pretty easy. And with six southern Africans, they had already played together a lot in juniors. That will bring them a lot of confidence.”
South Africa’s Els, a two-time British Open and two-time US Open winner, practiced Tuesday with Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge, a captain’s choice.
Australian world number two Scott, the reigning Masters champion, practiced alongside Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the youngest Internationals player at 21.
Other Internationals players include Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman, Canada’s Graham DeLaet, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and South Africans Branden Grace and Richard Sterne.