Spieth would give Presidents Cup team a spark
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com, usually on Wednesday.
U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples would be wise to select hot hand Jordan Spieth with one of his two wild-card picks Wednesday. The move would infuse the heavily favored U.S. team with star-quality fresh blood and, big picture in mind, help prepare Spieth for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Dustin Johnson, a bomber who can be dangerous in match play, makes sense as the other choice if the points standings remain the same after this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship. To make those picks, Couples would have to pass over two fortysomething veterans ranked among the top 15 in the world – part-time player Steve Stricker (14) and Jim Furyk (15) – as well as 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson (22).
In other words, Couples really can’t go wrong in beefing up an already deep and talented team for the Oct. 3-6 matches at Muirfield Village. At the moment, all 10 men in the automatic-qualifier spots are ranked in the top 27 in the world rankings.
On the flip side, only five in the International’s leading 10 qualifiers are in the world top 27. The 10th spot currently is held by Canadian Graham DeLaet, 48th in the world. DeLaet started the year 56th on the International points list but rose on the strength of six top-10 Tour finishes, including a career-best tie for second Sunday at The Barclays.
Tim Clark, 11th in the points standings and ranked No. 56 in the world, would be a logical pick for captain Nick Price. Marc Leishman, 66th in the world, also makes sense based on good finishes at the Masters (T-4), Players (T-8) and PGA Championship (T-12).
The U.S. leads the series 7-1-1 and has won the last three meetings by four or five points. Conventional wisdom says the International team needs to win one of these years to pump excitement into the Cup. This year wouldn’t appear to be one of those years, for the Internationals appear overmatched on paper, but then again anything can happen in 18-hole match play on grass.
• One particular player leads the 2013 Tour in victories, with five (three more than next-best), scoring average, earnings, FedEx points, all-around ranking, total putting, greens in regulation from 100-125 yards, GIR inside 125 yards and approaches from 150-175.
That would seem to constitute a great year, even if his name is Tiger Woods and he didn’t win a major and he used to say major victory puts you in the “great year” category.
Attach another name to those No. 1 achievements and golf would be throwing a ticker-tape parade for him down Broadway. Woods compiles that body of work and says it’s a “great” year and people say he has lowered his standards?
Point is, the record shouldn’t be diminished by semantics.
All heart, and plenty of game
• A high-ranking executive for an equipment manufacturer told me this summer that Spieth’s numbers weren’t all that great when measured on devices such as launch monitor and TrackMan. That led the man to deduce that Patrick Cantlay would be the much better prospect.
The past year has shown otherwise, and now the equipment man says this of Spieth: “You can’t measure heart on those machines.”
• The most important body part in golf changes. Among other things, it has been the left knee, left Achilles tendon, left elbow and now back. What is not different is the body to which they belong.
That said, it will be much easier for Tiger Woods to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for major titles than Bill Glasson’s record for surgeries.
At last count, Glasson had undergone 25 operations yet somehow can still swing a golf club, walk 18 holes and get through airport metal detectors.
• The Deutsche Bank features the juicy pairing of Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson in the first two rounds. That means Woods is in the same group as his former caddie, Steve Williams, and his nemesis, Mickelson.
I can already hear the sounds of silence.
• Is it my imagination, or are we still waiting for a Solheim Cup rules official to make a decision?
• Something tells me that, as Tour wives go, Paulina Gretzky might not be Barbara Nicklaus.
• I’m a little concerned about new golf superhero Dick Fowler, P.I. I mean, if he doesn’t trim that overgrown mustache, he may be eating it for dinner.
• Perhaps the Walrus needs to check to make sure Dick Fowler, P.I., didn’t confiscate his whiskers.
• I’m not surprised by much, but this raised an eyebrow: The most Champions Tour rookie winners in a season is only five (2013 and three other seasons). I mean, 50-year-olds are supposed to have an advantage on older guys.
On the other hand, the over-50 Tour is such a closed shop, there aren’t many rookies.
• Two-time LPGA winner Lydia Ko might be 16 years old, but not in golf years. So, at seventh in the world among females, why not turn professional? With the endorsement contract money she reaps, she can afford a driver.
As in limo, not golf club.