Final four selections for Presidents Cup teams named
Thursday, September 5, 2013
A year ago, the big date circled in October on the calendar of Texas sophomore Jordan Spieth was the Red River Rivalry against border rival Oklahoma. Now, after being selected as one of two captain’s picks for the U.S. team, it is the dates of the Presidents Cup.
“I’m just super stoked and happy I woke up this morning and it wasn’t a dream,” Spieth said.
U.S. captain Fred Couples chose Spieth, ranked No. 22 in the point standings, and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, to round out the 12-man American squad. International captain Nick Price used his picks on Marc Leishman and Brendon de Jonge.
The Presidents Cup will be held Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Spieth, 20, turned pro in December after 1 1/2 years at Texas and began the year with no status. He had to compete in a Thursday PGA Tour qualifier, but quickly showed his capabilities. Spieth won the John Deere Classic and recorded seven other top-10 finishes, including losing a playoff at the Wyndham Championship, and firing a final-round 62 at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday in the company of Phil Mickelson.
Color Mickelson impressed. Couples said that Mickelson texted him after the round. “Dude, you’ve got to pick this guy,” Mickelson wrote.
“He’s going to be the next Jim Furyk; he’s going to be on Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams forever,” Couples said of Spieth.
By choosing youth over experience, Couples passed on Furyk, whom he called “one of my guys.” Furyk had played on 15 straight international team competitions, and compiled a 5-0 mark at the 2011 Presidents Cup. Couples said he had sent a text to Furyk last night to break the news but had not talked with him yet.
“I just couldn’t handle it,” Couples said.
Couples hinted Monday that Simpson, who lost his automatic pick when Zach Johnson birdied the final two holes of the Deutsche Bank Championship to hang on to the No. 10 slot, would be safe and never wavered in that decision.
“All along, I was going to take No. 11,” Couples said. “And with Webb being in the top 10 for two years only to get pushed out with one putt, there was no way I could leave him off.”
In addition to Furyk, Couples left Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, who were key contributors in 2011’s winning side, off the team.
Likewise, Price faced a difficult choice in his two picks. He considered three men for the final two spots: Leishman, de Jonge and Tim Clark, who ended up being the odd man out. Leishman, the winner of the 2012 Travelers Championship, made a strong bid at the Masters, finishing T-4, while de Jonge, a fellow Zimbabwean, impressed with his consistency.
“He’s getting ready to break through,” Price said of de Jonge. “He’s in a situation where I think this may be a wonderful break for him, and I think he’s going to be a great teammate.”
Price said that phoning Clark was the toughest call he’d ever made.
“This is one of those times when you wish there were 13 members of the team,” Price said.