Price, Haas named 2015 Presidents Cup captains

Jay Haas (U.S., left) and Nick Price (Internationals, right) will captain their respective squads at the 2015 Presidents Cup.

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To take the Presidents Cup into new territory, the PGA Tour has given the leadership nod to a pair of old hands.

Commissioner Tim Finchem made official Wednesday that Nick Price, 57, will captain the International team for a second straight time, while Jay Haas, 60, an assistant to captain Fred Couples in each of the past three Presidents Cups, will lead the Americans when they visit South Korea for the Oct. 8-11, 2015 event.

Haas then announced that there would be a high level of continuity with the American side, because he named Couples as his assistant. If that offered a bit of a surprise, what came next did not: Price tabbed K.J. Choi as his assistant.

Because it will be the first sojourn into Asia for the Presidents Cup, there had been an over-riding sentiment that a Korean-born player had to be showcased. Choi, an eight-time PGA Tour winner who is widely respected, was a natural choice, though he’s still an effective player. Even Haas kidded Price that Choi might qualify for the team, though directly connecting the 44-year-old to the 2015 competition right now is likely to generate coveted interest and hype in his native land.

When he knew that he would serve for a second time, Price said it “was obvious that I wanted to have K.J. as an assistant.”

The Presidents Cup has been held six times in the U.S., twice in Australia, once in South Africa and once in Canada. No matter the locale, however, the story has been pretty much the same: The Americans have dominated to the tune of 8-1-1, including five straight wins by a combined score of 95-75.

Still, Finchem remains buoyant.

“I think we’re going to have a great Cup on a great venue (Jack Nicklaus GC in Incheon, near Seoul),” the commissioner said.

To add emphasis to that sentiment, Finchem was flanked by icons Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player at the announcement, which was made at the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf in Ridgedale, Mo. Nicklaus and Player will team in this competition, which begins Friday. But Nicklaus, a four-time Presidents Cup captain, and Player, a three-time captain, attended to speak passionately about the future of the biennial competition and to endorse next year’s captains.

Price was 8-11-4 as a competitor spanning the first five editions (1994-2003) of the Presidents Cup, then returned to the event last fall as captain of the Internationals. Though his team showed great spirit in winning the singles, 7 1/2 - 4 1/2, too big of a hole had been dug on Saturday when the Americans dominated two sessions by a combined 7 1/2 - 2 1/2 to take a six-point lead.

“I’m delighted to have been asked to do this again,” Price said. “Last year was a learning experience. I thank the players on that team. I know Tim (Finchem) polled them, and I must have done something right or I wouldn’t be here.”

Haas is no stranger to these international team events. His remarkable PGA Tour career included Ryder Cup appearances in three decades (1983, 1995, 2004), and he qualified for first American Presidents Cup team, in 1994. He played again in South Africa in 2003 and he was 5-3-1 in his Presidents Cup career.

As a player, Haas said he always strived to be on these teams, “but I never really dreamed of something like this. I never thought about being a captain. I’m kind of tingling.”

Citing Haas’ experience as a player, as a captain’s assistant and as the father of a team member (Bill Haas was on the 2011 and '13 Presidents Cup teams), Finchem said, “Jay brings a perspective to the Presidents Cup like no other captain. He’s unique.”

Sources said that Price was promised two go-rounds as International captain, which would be consistent with past practices in this event. Unlike the Ryder Cup, for which there are so many candidates lined up that it’s almost a given that a captain will get only one try, Presidents Cup captains tend to get multiple chances.

Greg Norman was captain in 2009 and '11, Player three times (2003, '05, '07) and Peter Thomson got three turns (1996, '98, 2000).

Though Hale Irwin (1994), Arnold Palmer (1996) and Ken Venturi (2000) got the captaincy once, the Americans have not been shy about affording multiple opportunities. Nicklaus was captain in 1998, 2003, '05, and '07, and Couples had three turns.

“We’ve been blessed by tremendous captains,” Finchem said, though being the competitor he is, Player sat close by and shook his head. “We haven’t fared as well as we should,” said the Hall of Famer from South Africa.

They’ll have a chance to reverse those fortunes, though not until October of 2015.

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