Two years ago, Paul Azinger was in the midst of making his four picks for the 2008 Ryder Cup. It’s Fred Couples’ turn now with the Presidents Cup, and he isn’t finding the task any easier than Azinger did.
Couples said he didn’t want to focus on one round or one tournament, but what happens this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship could have a major impact on who Couples picks to fill out the team.
One thing is for sure: Lucas Glover is a shoe-in. Couples told Glover that at the PGA Championship, saying he believes that if a player wins the U.S. Open, he would be an asset in a team event.
With only one pick remaining, the list has shrunk to just four players. Couples confirmed that Hunter Mahan, Brian Gay and Barclay’s winner Heath Slocum are on that short list. The last candidate is believed to be David Toms, who has had a very good 2009, but gained few points in 2008.
Couples is enamored with Mahan’s ball striking, but can’t let go of the fact that Gay has won twice in 2009, which is once more than Mahan has won in his career.
Couples, a self confessed neophyte when it comes to technology, never uses a computer, but got some assistance earlier this week from his caddie, Joe LaCava, and Phil Mickelson’s caddie, Jim McKay. They helped Couples look up a few season stats on Mahan. One of those stats? At No. 24 on the World Rankings list, Mahan is the highest American not already on the team.
The problem is that Mahan was 6 over par for the first seven holes at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He managed to get back to 2 over by the end of the day.
Couples wants to fill the last slot with a hot player, and if Mahan misses the cut this week he would open the door for Gay (70), Slocum (69) or Toms (67), who has been on Couples radar for a long time.
Couples thinks Slocum is the hottest player at the time and this captain seems to be subscribing to the philosophy that hot is good. In the end, if Couples is like Azinger, he will be waffling back and forth until late on Monday night, because it’s hard not to take a serious look at a guy when he just won a tournament, whether he is on your list or not.