The Presdients Cup is still a couple months away, but already there has been plenty of discussion about the final picks for each side being made for all the wrong reasons. In November, the American team will be facing off against the International side atAustralia’s historic Royal Melbourne course. The American team is captained by Fred Couples and the European team by Greg Norman, a pairing much more interesting than the last Ryder Cup captain matchup (Colin Montgomerie vs. Corey Pavin), and while both teams are absolutely loaded, each is facing scrutiny for whom they’re SUPPOSEDLY going to pick with each of their two captains’ picks.
Sure, these rumors aren’t set in stone yet, but considering the promotion of the event, it’d be hard to think that the captains’ picks, at least three of the four, will be selected because of their golf. Regardless of the spin Ponte Vedra is trying to put on the event’s importance, it’s obvious they view this as simply an exhibition, and the PGA Tour is still the PGA Tour and will try to wring every last red cent out of this thing, quality be damned.
Before we start, here are the current standings for the good guys with the top 10 getting in automatically. This is an incredibly well balanced team that shouldn’t see too much change in the next couple of months as the one player on an incendiary streak, Webb Simpson, is already 7th. You have a nice collection of steady guys with Kuchar and Stricker, bombers with Phil, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, and young freaks like Simpson and Nick Watney. Personally, I’d love nothing more than to see Jim Furyk (one of the WORST golfers in team play in Ryder/Presidents Cup history) and Hunter Mahan (Ryder Cup goat in 2010) get left off the team, but that’s not happening this late in the game.
And that’s a shame considering Freddie is hell bent on using one of his two captains’ picks on Tiger Woods.
Now, could Couples have a change of heart in the next two months? Absolutely. And Tiger could find some form in the fall events he’ll play between now and then, but considering how he’s looked so far this season, you wonder if his game can really be refined in only a month. If you only consider the players’ actual golf, and not their history, there is absolutely no reason Tiger Woods should be included. None. And yet, here he is…a most likely sure-fire pick due to Couples’ relationship with him and pressure from the Tour to get eyeballs.
But we’re not done yet.
Lets assume that Tiger is one of the two picks, who’s next? Lets take a look at the most deserving candidates between 11 and 29 (where Tiger’s ranked)…we have Rickie Fowler (who’s been stellar and was dominant in last year’s Ryder Cup), 2011 PGA Champ Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker (damn fine player with a win and who’s top 25’d 12 of his 13 events entered this season), David Toms (also has a win, 11 of 14 events in the top 25), two-time winner in 2011 Mark Wilson and a youngster with one of the most ridiculous comprehensive games on either Tour in Gary Woodland. All of these guys are MUCH MUCH MUCH better picks than Tiger but I don’t think a single one of them will make this team.
Let me introduce you to the Haas’, Bill and Jay. Jay, Freddie’s co-captain, has a son named Bill who had a fantastic start to the 2011 season before falling off. Bill is a damn fine player who’s long and accurate but isn’t the best putter in the world and who could’ve ensured his spot on the team by merit but fell short. While he wouldn’t be the worst selection, and certainly a better pick than Tiger, this would reek of nepotism, especially considering some of the names that’d be left here to watch on TV.
Who should be picked: Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland
Who will be picked: Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley (who’ll get in because Phil will go to the mattresses for him)
The event, held inAustralia, and the captain, also Australian, has a thoroughly shrimp-on-the-barbie feel to it, and what better way to AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE OY OY OY than to stock your team with a bunch of em? Well, therein lies the problem.
The current International team is, without a doubt, LOADED. Currently in the top 10 you have Jason Day and Adam Scott, two of the very finest players in 2011, three assassin-like Korean golfers in KJ Choi, YE Yang and the relatively unknown KT Kim (who you might remember as the winner of the prestigious Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup), four South Africans ranging from established vets (Els and Goosen) to recent major winners (Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen) and the impressive Ryo Ishikawa. If you’re counting at home…that’s only two Australians.
The players most likely to get the call from the Shark are Aussies themselves. Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley are all between 11-20 in the International rankings, which is good for promoting the event but bad if you’re going off of their results this year. There’s only a single win amongst the three of them (Baddeley’s win atRiviera), and collectively, none have a resume worthy of being a captain’s pick. To put their shoddy 2011’s into perspective, if you extrapolated Tiger’s performances in 2011 out for a full year, they’d all be in the same ballpark only Tiger would’ve finished in the top 10 more often.
And don’t even get me started on Norman actually suggesting Camillo Villegas has a legitimate shot at making this squad…dude has FOUR top 25’s in TWENTY FOUR events. Talk about all flash and no substance, even Tiger cringes at the amount of publicity Villegas receives.
Meanwhile, arguably the most deserving candidates forNorman’s captains’ picks? Fiji’s Vijay Singh who, even in a down year due to injuries, has just as good a resume as anyone else under consideration and has found his form of late and is arguably the player riding the hottest streak right now. Also, Singh hasn’t missed a Presidents Cup. Ever. He’s also the all-time International leader in matches won and is tied with Els for most International points won. Another worthy pick is South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini, a churlish prick with a better resume than almost anyone else outside the top 10 (other than Baddely) who’s a fearless competitor. He’s got a resume on par with Baddeley’s but has been a more consistent fixture over the past two years but has butted heads with Norman over not getting a call when he was passed over for a struggling Adam Scott and an untested Ryo Ishikawa in 2009.
I understand how important this event is to Australian golf, both to the Tour guys, Norman, the PGA and Australia itself and it must be rough that there are only two Aussies currently guaranteed spots, but at the same time, Vijay shouldn’t be left off because of that. If eyeballs are a metric for selection, Vijay has more name value than any of the Aussies. If legacy is a metric, Vijay’s still got the edge. If current form is a metric, he’s still right there and to leave him off in favor of an Aussie who’s not as deserving would be nothing more than regional pom-pom waving byNorman. Australia’s been very good to the PGA Tour…just not as good as Vijay’s been.
Also, in the case of Geoff Ogilvy, with a strong performance inChicagonext weekend, could bump Oosthuizen from the 10th spot. And if that happens, you now have a recent non-Aussie major winner with a top 10 in this year’s US Open in the selection pool, making it even tougher of a case to take Baddeley or Allenby. While not nearly as damning to the team’s chances as the controversy surrounding the American’s captains’ picks, leaving off Vijay would be a huge blow to a team that could use his experience seeing as Els and Goosen are the only experienced players who automatically qualify.
Who should be picked: Vijay Singh and Oosthuizen/Ogilvy
Who will be picked: Ogilvy and Robert Allenby