The final American and International rosters for next month's Presidents Cup are now set, with respective captains Fred Couples and Nick Price announcing their two captain's picks for each side. The announcement was, of course, orchestrated as a TV event on Golf Channel, where Couples tabbed Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth for the USA and Price selected Marc Leishman and Brendon de Jonge to round out the International side.
Couples had a loaded set of players to choose from, with Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and late-charger Spieth all falling outside the top 10 in points qualifying. This was the third time Couples has been the American captain, and the two picks emerged as a consensus in the past week. Simpson was inside the top 10 until Zach Johnson bombed in a 30-foot putt to end the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday. Johnson, who played with Simpson, even tweeted that his playing partner should still get in and the momentum for Simpson coalesced in the last week. Couples said it would have been impossible to pass over Simpson given that late bump out of the top 10 in points.
Spieth's rise onto the team caps a remarkable year that has many touting the Texan as the next great American golfer. Spieth became the first teenager to win a PGA Tour even in over 80 years when he captured the John Deere Classic in a playoff in July. Following that, he contended at the British Open, lost in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship, and then started the FedExCup with two top 20 finishes. Spieth rolled in a long eagle on his last hole on Monday to finish with a round of 62 at TPC Boston and a T4 finish.
It's an amazing burst in his rookie year, and Couples said on Golf Channel that the decision was informed by the qualifiers already on the USA team and their support for adding Spieth. The Longhorn started the season without a PGA Tour card, and now will finish it with a tee time in the year's most exclusive field -- the final 30 in the FedExCup's TOUR Championship. It was time to get some young blood in the fold. Couples talked about his regret at leaving Keegan Bradley off the team in 2011, and Bradley went on to light up the Ryder Cup last fall. Getting Spieth, who was down the standings in 22nd because he didn't have as many events over the past two years to earn points, onto the roster became critical for Couples as well as the American side for many future team events.
Price passed over Tim Clark, the South African veteran who has played well in match play and this event in the past, opting for his fellow Zimbabwean de Jonge. Price said he thought Clark would qualify on points, but decided to leave him off because of his lack of distance off the tee, which Muirfield Village demands. It came down to those final three players, and Price said informing Clark was the toughest call he had to make in his life. Leishman was a bit of a no-brainer, as the Aussie has played well for much of the season at the biggest events. In addition to Clark, Thongchai Jaidee, who was the first man out in points qualifying (No. 11), could also have a gripe with Price. The decision to leave off Clark because of distance, however, will be panned.
The captains hold a special power to round out the roster, and sometimes they go off the board to select a player. Adam Scott, who is the leader of the International side this year, credits Greg Norman going deep down the standings to select him as a captain's pick in 2009 as a turning point in his career. Since that selection, Scott said he regained the confidence that crescendoed with his first major championship earlier this year, and he cited it after the win at Augusta in April.
In the near 20-year history of the Presidents Cup, the American side has won seven of nine iterations, with one tie and one International win way back in 1998. Unlike the Ryder Cup, Team USA has been untouchable in recent years, and they will be heavy favorites on home soil at Muirfield Village, where many of the team's players have played well during the annual Memorial tournament. Jack Nicklaus' place is now the only venue in the world to host a Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, and Solheim Cup. Unlike the Ryder Cup, all 12 players play the first two days at the Presidents Cup so the full rosters are tested. With the Buckeyes on the road for the first weekend in October, the crowds should be substantial and raucous next month.
Here are the full rosters for the competition in Columbus in October:
|1||Tiger Woods||Adam Scott|
|2||Brandt Snedeker||Jason Day|
|3||Phil Mickelson||Charl Schwartzel|
|4||Matt Kuchar||Ernie Els|
|5||Jason Dufner||Louis Oosthuizen|
|6||Keegan Bradley||Hideki Matsuyama|
|7||Steve Stricker||Branden Grace|
|8||Bill Haas||Graham DeLaet|
|9||Hunter Mahan||Richard Sterne|
|10||Zach Johnson||Angel Cabrera|
|11||Webb SImpson||Marc Leishman|
|12||Jordan Spieth||Brendon de Jonge|