Expert predictions: Presidents Cup captain's picks
November 04, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- November 04, 2019
- Tony Finau is aiming to earn a captain's pick from U.S. Team captain Tiger Woods. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
International Captain Ernie Els and U.S. Captain Tiger Woods will announce their captain's picks later this week for the Presidents Cup to be played Dec. 9-15 at Royal Melbourne. Each captain gets four picks -- Els will announce his on Wednesday night, Woods the following night.
Which players will get a trip to Australia next month? Which players should? PGATOUR.COM's staff writers -- Ben Everill, Sean Martin, Mike McAllister and Cameron Morfit -- sat in the captains' seat and picked who they thought should get the call. Just in case Els and Woods were asking (which they weren't).
U.S. TEAM PREDICTIONS Everill Martin McAllister Morfit Finau Finau Na Fowler Fowler Reed Reed Reed Woodland Woodland Woodland Woodland Woods Woods Woods Woods
Ben Everill: Woods picking himself is a no-brainer. Woodland won the U.S. Open and then played well in Asia recently to solidify his spot. Finau is the perfect team player in that he can slot in anywhere and be successful and Fowler brings plenty to the team room and is no slouch. I would add Patrick Reed with an asterisk as I believe he will be picked when Brooks Koepka succumbs to injury. The initial slight will work perfectly in Woods' favor. Reed will come in to the team and be his usual Captain America self.
Sean Martin: I’m riding for Reed on the strength of 10 consecutive top-25s, including a win at THE NORTHERN TRUST. He’s had the best recent stretch among the top candidates. There was obviously last year’s Ryder Cup controversy, but this is a team of grown men and I would hope that they could put their differences behind them. Reed made one last statement with a final-round 66 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. It was just one stroke off the day’s low round. He was second in the field in greens in regulation. Also, let’s remember that he’s won at another Alister Mackenzie masterpiece. His strong short game – he was 14th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green last season -- would be useful around Royal Melbourne’s firm and fast greens.
Mike McAllister: I'm the only one picking Na, and I selected him over Finau. Definitely a tough choice there, but Na's two wins in his last 11 starts simply can't be ignored. Plus, I think he'll be a good team-room guy, very appreciative of the opportunity ... and it doesn't hurt to be friendly with Tiger. If Koepka pulls out, then another big-hitter in Finau would be an easy replacement.
Cameron Morfit: There's no big secret to predicting how this one will go, as Woods is a no-brainer to pick himself, Woodland is simply one of the best 5-10 American players right now, Fowler can mix and match with anyone, and Reed lives and breathes for these things and just shot a final-round 66 for a T8 at the WGC-HSBC.
INTERNATIONAL TEAM PREDICITONS Everill Martin McAllister Morfit An An An An Day Conners Conners Day Im Im Im Im Niemann Niemann Niemann Niemann
Ben Everill: Im and Niemann are young and in form and won't be intimidated. An was unlucky last time out and given Branden Grace's lack of form and no Japanese-speaking player setting the world on fire to go with Matsuyama, An is the choice over Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners and Jazz Janewattananond. Day hasn't been at his best but being an Australian who has won a World Cup at Royal Melbourne and two WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play titles gets him over the line.
Sean Martin: Conners is a name that’s not getting enough discussion. He has four consecutive top-20s and his strong ball-striking makes him a perfect partner for Foursomes. He ranked eighth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green last season. Paul Casey was the only other player to rank in the top 10 in both stats. Some may take exception with my omission of Jason Day, but he's had just one top-10 since the Masters (T8, Travelers). I’ll take form over experience any day. Do I think Ernie Els will pick Day? Of course. I just think captain’s picks exist to give the captain a chance to think outside the box, and I’d advocate Els do that in this case.
Mike McAllister: Jason Day presents a real conundrum for Els, since the Aussie's form can't match those of my four choices (of course, he does have course history and match play success in his favor). Niemann and Im have won events this fall; Conners and An have top-20 finishes in a combined seven starts. If form really matters with these picks, well, here you go. Yes, it'd be a shock to not see Day on the team, but perhaps a shock is what the Internationals need.
Cameron Morfit: Day because he has it in him to beat some of the Americans. (Whether he will or not is an open question.) Im is just too darn consistent (Rookie of the Year, T11 at WGC-HSBC) to leave him off the team. Niemann is a future star whose future stardom turned into present stardom at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. And An knocked out a third at Sanderson Farms, top-10s at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES and the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, and a T14 at HSBC. That should be enough.