Spieth, Simpson, Leishman and de Jonge make the Presidents Cup
The teams for the 2013 Presidents Cup are now set, as Team USA captain Fred Couples and International captain Nick Price have made their two additional picks to compliment their ten qualified players. Couples selected Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson, while Price went with Australian Marc Leishman and fellow Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge. Full teams are listed below:
|Team USA||Team International|
|Tiger Woods (USA)||Adam Scott (Australia)|
|Brandt Snedeker (USA)||Jason Day (Australia)|
|Phil Mickelson (USA)||Charl Schwartzel (South Africa)|
|Matt Kuchar (USA)||Ernie Els (South Africa)|
|Jason Dufner (USA)||Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)|
|Keegan Bradley (USA)||Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)|
|Steve Stricker (USA)||Branden Grace (South Africa)|
|Bill Haas (USA)||Graeme DeLaet (Canada)|
|Hunter Mahan (USA)||Richard Sterne (South Africa)|
|Zach Johnson (USA)||Angel Cabrera (Argentina)|
|Jordan Spieth (USA) *Captain’s Pick*||Marc Leishman (Australia) *Captain’s Pick*|
|Webb Simpson (USA) *Captain’s Pick*||Brendon de Jonge (Zimbabwe) *Captain’s Pick*|
On paper, this looks like a blowout for the Americans, but realistically, these guys are all so good that you shouldn’t be surprised if the International side comes away with the win at Muirfield Village in October. Now, captain’s picks are always a hot debate topic, and you saw why at the Ryder Cup last year when American captain Davis Love went with Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, both of whom ended up being big contributors to the American collapse at Medinah. So, let’s take a quick look at the theories behind match play selections as well as why these four were selected and others weren’t.
Team Match Play Theory
When you’re talking about team match play, the generally accepted theory is that captain’s should build their teams and pairings around players who are opposites on the course. This usually means playing a guy who bombs the ball but has trouble hitting the fairway (see Mickelson, Phil) with a guy like Steve Stricker, who doesn’t stray too far from the middle. Playing good putters with bad putters is also usually done to minimize the damage on the greens.
Ten players for each side were already selected for the captains, with the Americans using a point system and the Internationals going based on their top 10 players from the Official World Golf Rankings. Let’s take a look at the selections for Nick Price’s International side.
WHO: If you’re looking for an American equivalent, at least in terms of play style, look at Matt Kuchar. Leishman’s a guy who doesn’t really do anything spectacularly well, but he doesn’t do anything poorly either. Currently ranked 59th in the world, with eight career professional wins and one on the PGA Tour at last year’s Travelers. It’s his first appearance in the Presidents Cup.
WHY: Leishman had a great run starting in April at the Masters when he played in Sunday’s final group with Adam Scott, and I honestly think that’s exactly why Price took him. Since the Byron Nelson in May, he’s played in nine events with his best finish coming at the PGA Championship where he ended up tied for 12th.
WHERE: In 18 rounds at Muirfield Village, Leishman has only posted two rounds in the 60’s.
Brendon de Jonge
WHO: The hefty de Jonge is frequently in the discussion of best player on the PGA Tour without a win, but he’s been able to hang on to his tour card because of his level of consistency. He’s currently ranked 70th in the world, and is typically known as one of the better ball strikers on the PGA Tour. He’s actually made the most birdies of anyone on the PGA Tour in 2013 with 371.
WHY: There are already people suggesting that Price made this pick in the same way that Greg Norman selected fellow Aussie Adam Scott a few years ago, which was basically done as a favour to someone who didn’t deserve to be here. Most of that is probably because those people don’t know who de Jonge is, but believe me, he’s a worthy selection, especially when you consider the inconsistent nature of the rest of the International squad.
WHERE: de Jonge hasn’t had a ton of success at Muirfield Village either, with his best finish being a T-12 in 2010. Has posted two rounds in the 60’s in 14 rounds played.
Who Missed Out?
- Tim Clark: Of everyone who didn’t get in, Clark was the most surprising. Price suggested that it was because he didn’t have enough length off the tee, but you’d think that a guy who is as consistently in the middle as Clark would be worth a pick. If it were me, I would have taken Clark over Leishman.
WHO: If you’ve been paying attention to the PGA Tour at any point this season, you’ve seen Spieth at the top of most leaderboards. He started the season with no status on the PGA Tour, but ended up getting it officially with a dramatic playoff victory at the John Deere. Since then, he was the runner-up at the Wyndham and was T-4 last week at the Deutsche Bank.
WHY: He’s one of the hottest players in the world, which is probably what pushed him over the top in the mind of Fred Couples, but that’s not the only reason. The 20-year old has an ability to go low that few players possess, and will have an enthusiasm that should inject a little bit of life into an American team that outside of Keegan Bradley, can be about as energetic as a fire hydrant.
WHERE: Played Muirfield Village for the first time this year, and struggled with scores of 72-73-82-68 to finish tied for 62nd.
WHO: The winner of last year’s U.S. Open hasn’t had the kind of season that he would have wanted, but there was pretty much no chance that Couples was leaving him off the team. He would have been on it automatically if Zach Johnson didn’t hit a 26 footer on the 72nd hole on Monday at the Deutsche Bank, so it’s not like the selection was a reach.
WHY: To be honest, I’m pretty sure Couples had this decision made weeks ago and when Steve Stricker played well enough to qualify on his own, the decision was even easier for him. Simpson has a career 2-5 record in professional match play, but luckily for him, he won’t have to run into Ian Poulter on Sunday this time around.
WHERE: Finished tied for 7th at Muirfield Village back in 2011, but also has three missed cuts and a T-48. He’s only been in the 60’s once in fourteen career rounds.
Who Missed Out?
- Jim Furyk: Furyk’s record at this event is very good, and Couples admitted that he really wanted to pick Furyk, but he made the right call here in my opinion. Furyk’s performance at the Ryder Cup last year and his inability to close anything out over the past few years makes it difficult to trust him. Furyk’s biggest asset has always been his consistency, but when you look at the above list, they have enough guys who do what he does already, only they do it better than Furyk at this point in his career.
- Dustin Johnson: Without a doubt, Johnson is the most talented guy on the cut list, but since winning the opening event of 2013, he’s been all over the place. With the makeup of the American team, I think he’s a better fit than Simpson if he’s playing well, but he really isn’t right now, so I get leaving him off.
- Rickie Fowler: Fowler was on a pretty decent run until getting cut at the Deutsche Bank, but I don’t think he had much of a chance after the run Spieth went on in the last few weeks. Still think he’s a great match play candidate in a team format because his blowups don’t usually equate to much other than a single lost hole.
- Bubba Watson: Watson has had two top-10 finishes all year, so let’s just move on.
- Billy Horschel: Horschel had no chance at this, but I put him on this list because he’s got the type of personality that can be really effective at this kind of event, but his results just haven’t been there. Since he finished tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, his best finish was a tie for 30th at the Greenbrier.
The 2013 Presidents Cup will be played from October 3rd to 6th at Muirfield Village.