CHAMPIONS TOUR INSIDER
Insider: Different captain, same playbook
June 18, 2014
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM
- The 2015 Presidents Cup will be held in South Korea. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
Jay Haas knows a good thing when he sees it. He knew instantly that, as captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team next year, his first bit of strategy would be more common sense than tactical.
Haas selected Fred Couples as assistant captain.
“Fred was a tap-in – it was going to happen,” Haas said.
Couples, with Haas at his side as assistant, led the United States to victory in the Presidents Cup in 2009, 2011 and again last year at Muirfield Village Golf Club. When the Presidents Cup reconvenes next year in Korea, they’ll again comprise a significant portion of the American braintrust.
“It just seemed like we meshed well the last three times, and we've had success,” Haas said. “As soon as I had gotten the word from Tim (Finchem), we talked, and it was just kind of a done deal. I think we both assumed that that was going to happen.”
Under Haas, the play book isn’t likely to change, either. Only the signal-caller will be different.
“The system that Fred and I used, and Davis (Love) last year, that we used for three teams, was we leaned heavily on the veteran players,” Haas said. “We got Tiger and Phil and Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and guys like that in the room and there was not a pecking order. We were a bunch of equal guys in there just trying to put the best team forward, and I don't think that will change any.”
“We're going to keep pretty much the same formula. We just have a different person giving the speeches I guess at the opening and closing ceremonies.”
The formula includes heavy doses of fun, camaraderie and respect for the captain. Couples had it. Haas will have it. His reputation as one of the game’s finest gentlemen and an outstanding player for a long time will see to that.
Haas can, and no doubt will, feed off being Couples’ right-hand man for three President Cups. Haas acknowledged that being a captain isn’t something he anticipated and he’ll be in uncharted waters in that regard. But it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Haas was selected. He deserves it.
“I can't say enough about Fred, how the guys respond to him, how they have the last three matches,” Haas said. “We just have a big time. We just have a ball … I don't think there's anything better for a golfer from an individual sport to be in that team with those players and kind of feel that those other 11 guys have your back.
“Fred and I, we've been buddies for a long time, and we're really looking forward to going over to South Korea and trying to put up a good fight against the International Team once again.”
The 2015 Presidents Cup will be held Oct. 6-11 when the biennial competition makes its first trip to Asia. Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea will be the fourth international venue to host The Presidents Cup, joining The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia (1998, 2011); The Links at Fancourt, George, South Africa (2003); and The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2007).
Haas and Nick Price, captain of the International side for the second time, will add up to two more assistants later this year. Price’s first choice was Korea’s K.J. Choi.
The United States has only lost the competition once since its inception in 1994 and has an 8-1-1 overall record. The loss came in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.
The three victories with Couples at the helm have been by significant margins. The Americans won 18 ½ to 15 ½ last year in Dublin, Ohio. In 2011, it was 19-15 for the U.S. at Royal Melbourne, avenging the lone defeat. In 2009 it was 19 ½ to 14 ½ at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
“It was my goal to make any of these teams and to be in that (team) room,” Haas said. “I don't think there's been a better feeling for me than looking around across the room and seeing Tiger or Captain Nicklaus or whoever it might be, and to be one of those players. That was always my goal. I didn't really aspire to be a captain, never thought that that would be in the cards for me.
“There are so many people who are deserving of this seat right here, I just feel like I'm very blessed to be sitting here representing the United States, and hopefully I won't screw this thing up too badly.”