NEW YORK – The Americans have a 7-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup, and it looks even more lopsided on paper.
Consider the options of the two captains.
This is the final week for players to earn a spot on the teams before Fred Couples and Nick Price get two captain’s picks.
If nothing changes in the U.S. standings, Couples will have to choose from among Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, if he can persuade Stricker to take a break from his semi-retirement. That list doesn’t even include 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. Whenever a guy starts a season with no status and is headed to the Tour Championship, odds are he’s playing pretty good golf.
For Couples, that’s a nice problem to have.
International captain Nick Price has a short list that doesn’t resemble a “Who’s Who” as much as a “Who’s That?”
Move past Tim Clark at No. 11 and his choices include Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. There are three Aussies, just not the names you’re used to seeing – Marc Leishman, Brett Rumford and Marcus Fraser. There’s George Coetzee and Brendon de Jonge, both from southern Africa.
What binds them is not the contrived International flag under which they hope to play. It’s that none has competed in the Presidents Cup.
“There’s a lot of rookies,” Price said Tuesday morning.
He wasn’t talking about potential picks, but players already on the team – Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Graham DeLaet of Canada, who is holding down the 10th spot going into the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The International team has not looked this outmatched since 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the year one of its players (Carlos Franco of Paraguay) tuned up for the matches by going through Q-school. Another (Joe Ozaki) only made the team because his big brother (Jumbo Ozaki) decided not to play.
They gave the Yanks their biggest spanking in team competition. It was such a rout that when Price won the clinching point, the staff was still clearing breakfast off the tables in the clubhouse.
The Presidents Cup needs a new winner, even if that means new faces.
It needs emotion, which has been missing since Chris DiMarco ran screaming into the arms of Jack Nicklaus after making a putt on the final hole in 2005.
It needs one of the most distinguished characters in golf breaking a club over his knee in despair.
“That really was embarrassing for me,” Price said.
Yes, that was him.
The Presidents Cup in South Africa was so tight in 2003 that Price knew every point – every half-point – could be the difference. Playing against Kenny Perry, he twice rallied from a three-hole deficit. On the final hole at Fancourt, Price missed a short birdie putt to halve the match and snapped the putter in two as he walked off the green.
No apologies were necessary, though he still offers them.
“A freak reaction,” Price said. “But I’ll tell you what it’s turned into. A guy phoned me from South Africa and said, ‘Tell us about the time you walked off the green and broke your putter in front of (captains) Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.’ It was totally unintentional. But it showed how much I cared.”