By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Fred Couples and Nick Price both have difficult decisions to make by Sept. 4 -- the day they'll make their two captain's picks for the respective Presidents Cup teams -- but for different reasons. Couples, the United States captain, has an excess of experienced players sitting outside the top 10 in his team's standings. Price, the International captain, is looking to add veterans to his roster, but may have to scroll farther down his rankings than he would like.
Couples also must consider the case of Spieth, the talented 20-year-old who won earlier this year. Picking Spieth may require passing over an experienced player, but Couples mentioned Spieth multiple times while discussing potential captain’s picks in a Thursday news conference. Spieth, who turned pro in December, is No. 26 in the United States’ rankings and would need to be one of Couples’ two picks to earn his roster spot.
The top 10 players in each side's points ranking automatically qualify for their respective team Sept. 2, after play is complete at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Couples and Price will each make two captain's selections two days later.
U.S. stalwarts Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson all entered the Deutsche Bank Championship outside the top 10 in the U.S. standings, with two more experienced players, Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson, holding the ninth and 10th spots.
“They're all right there,” Couples said Thursday from the Champions Tour’s Shaw Charity Classic. “So Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and then I think Jordan Spieth's a little higher than that, those are the guys that are going to make it.
“I have a tough job picking that because there's so many good players in that little category, but at the same time I have an easy job because whoever I pick are going to be two quality players. If you look at that list, they're all Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup players; Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, those guys have played on several teams. The only other name out there that would be a little higher would be Jordan Spieth, he's had a phenomenal year.”
Spieth, 20, won the John Deere Classic in July. His seven top-10s are tied for fourth-most on TOUR. He entered the Deutsche Bank Championship at No. 9 in the FedExCup.
Price may go farther down his team’s rankings for his two picks. "The problem that we do have is that we don't have a lot of experience," Price said. Tim Clark, who's played three Presidents Cups, is 11th in the standings and a potential captain's pick. Geoff Ogilvy (20th in the International Team standings) and K.J. Choi (23rd) also have played three Presidents Cups apiece. Every player between Clark and Choi, except Ogilvy, would be a Presidents Cup rookie, though.
“I'm really sad for K.J. because I know how much he wanted to play this year,” Price said. “He just played so indifferently and he's back (at 23rd) on our list, which is he should be much higher than that. But he also at the meeting that we had in Ohio spoke with a lot of passion, which the younger guys, you know, took notice of.”
Price will be at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday to get input from his players about the captain’s picks. He also will seek the counsel of his assistant captains.
“I'm going to go meet them face‑to‑face and ask the guys to … give me 10 minutes before or after (they play). I have a couple of questions I want to ask the guys, who they feel they would pick. I'll keep a record of all the guys, what they said. I'll go meet with my co‑captains, we'll go through the whole due process of doing it and then make the picks on Wednesday. I'll take into consideration the experience, do we need more experience on the team, do we need exuberance or whatever.
It's a tough situation, but there's going to be a couple people I'm sure who are going to be disappointed, but the decision that we make will come from 15 guys or 16 guys. It will be captain, three co‑captains and the 12 players or 10 players will make that decision. It's not going to be just me or my captains, it will be a team effort.”