Fred Couples, who skippered the 2009 and 2011 American teams to victories, announced Tuesday that he had asked Jack Nicklaus, Jay Haas, and Michael Jordan to help him manage the American players for the biennial event, set for Oct. 4-6, 2013. Haas, the Champions Tour golfer, said yes, he would reprise his role as Couples’ right-hand man; Nicklaus, a four-time Prez Cup captain with a 2-1-1 record, took a pass; and the NBA Hall of Famer, who seems to function in these team events as Tiger Woods’ binky, was a likely no-go.
''Freddie paid me a nice compliment by his suggestion,'' Nicklaus told the Associated Press. ''It was very thoughtful of him. I would love to, but I simply can't. I have duties as host, so that would not be the right thing to do.''
Couples met with reporters at Muirfield two days after his stint as assistant to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III came to a disappointing end. He said he would ask Love to be on his staff as well, but he had yet to hear back from the overseer of the team that held a four-point edge heading into Sunday and lost to the Europeans, 14½-13½.
“I texted him this morning, hoping he would give me a response, and he didn't,” Couples said about Love, who has expressed interest in making the team as a player and will compete in this week’s PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.
As for Nicklaus and Jordan, Couples said the latter had other commitments and the former believed Freddie was kidding when he made the offer.
''I wasn't joking about it,'' Couples told the AP.
Couples learned from someone “pretty high up there” in the tour hierarchy that naming Nicklaus to his staff was a no-no.
“‘He's hosting the thing, he can't do that,’” Couples said the official told him. “Then Jack winked at me and said, 'But I can be in your team room all you want.'''
Also on hand for captain’s day was International captain Nick Price, who tapped Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty, and Tony Johnstone as his assistants.