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Golf Tidbits: Breaking down Presidents Cup options
Kevin Currie, Golf Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
This is the final weekend to impress the Presidents Cup captains, who will each make their two captain's picks on Tuesday.
United States captain Fred Couples looks to have a good field from which to choose. Not only does he have candidates with international team play on their resumes, he also has players that have won big tournaments this year among those he could select.
International team captain Greg Norman, on the other hand is looking at guys battling injuries or just poor form.
Lets break down the possible selections for both squads:
THE U.S. TEAM
The U.S. team that was locked in after the PGA Championship includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Sean O'Hair, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim and Justin Leonard. Of that group, only O'Hair has not competed in an international team event.
Of the next five in the standings that Couples will undoubtedly be consulting are the likes of Lucas Glover, Brian Gay, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson. All five are playing the second FedEx Cup playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, this week.
Glover won his first major championship at the U.S. Open, and also played on the 2007 Presidents Cup team. He has missed the cut in two of his last four starts, but also finished fifth at the PGA Championship in that span.
Gay is the only player Couples is looking at that has won two times this season, emerging victorious at The Heritage and the St. Jude Classic. Gay has not played in international competition as a professional, but competed in the 1993 Walker Cup, which pits amateurs from the U.S. against amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland.
Mahan is the only player ranked between Nos. 11-15 that has not won this season. However, he has played on the last two international teams for the U.S., the 2007 Presidents Cup and the 2008 Ryder Cup. He has six top-10 finishes in 2009, including four in five starts at one point. His only missed cut this season was at the British Open.
Watney claimed his second PGA Tour win earlier this year at Torrey Pines as he won by a single stroke over John Rollins and ended two clear of Glover. He owns three other top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the WGC - CA Championship, but did miss the cut at both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. The con for Watney is no international team experience.
Johnson had an up-and-down start to his season. He earned his second PGA Tour win at Pebble Beach, but had problems off the course as he was arrested for driving under the influence. Johnson has three top-10s since his win, including a tie for 10th at the PGA Championship. This would also be his first international team competition.
My money is on Glover and Mahan, but I would not be shocked if Gay or Watney is chosen ahead of Mahan to join the veteran-laden U.S. team. If Couples wants even more veteran leadership on his squad, he could go with David Toms or Chad Campbell, who are 17th and 18th on the points list.
THE INTERNATIONAL TEAM
Norman's International team includes Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Y.E. Yang and Tim Clark.
Norman's top-five choices for his captain's picks include Rory Sabbatini, Jeev Milkha Singh, Shingo Katayama, Adam Scott and Mathew Goggin. Sabbatini and Goggin are competing at the Deutsche Bank Championship, while Singh is playing on the European Tour at the European Masters.
Sabbatini picked up his fifth PGA Tour win earlier this year at the Byron Nelson, and has three other top-10 finishes, though he also missed five cuts in a seven-event stretch between May and July. The South African played in the 2007 Presidents Cup and made three appearances in the World Cup.
Singh, who splits his time between the PGA and European Tours, has three top- six finishes and seven missed cuts this season. He missed the cut in two of the three majors he participated in, and shared 67th at the PGA Championship. Singh had a strong '08 season with a win and two second-place finishes.
Katayama has played in only six events in states this year, with his best showing a solo fourth-place finish at the Masters. Katayama owns 26 wins on the Japan Golf Tour, but has no international team experience and hasn't won in 2009.
Scott has been struggling all season. At the start of the year, he was battling an injured knee, now it is an injured game. Scott has one finish inside the top 35 -- a tie for fourth at the Scottish Open -- since February. Being an Australian, like captain Norman, might help his chances of making his fourth straight Presidents Cup team, but that would be a big limb for Norman to go out on.
Goggin is a 2008 Nationwide Tour graduate with three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2009, including a share of fifth at the British Open. The Australian has not won a professional event since 1999 and has no international team experience.
I would lean towards Norman going with the chalk picks of Sabbatini and Singh. Though looking further down the points list, I could easily envision Norman taking K.J. Choi over Singh.
A real wild card choice would be Michael Sim, who was 24th when the standings locked after the PGA Championship, but has climbed to 18th thanks to his third win of the year on the Nationwide Tour.
DIFFERING VIEWS OF LIBERTY NATIONAL
The first FedEx Cup playoff event is over and the range of views on Liberty National, the events' host course, are widespread.
Charles Howell III said after round two what a few of his fellow players were thinking.
"Look at the scores and it will tell you that," said Howell of Liberty National being a major championship-worthy venue.
Offering a differing opinion, one long-time caddie told Foxsports.com that he had never heard "so much bitching about a course." While another unnamed caddie was quoted as saying, "To call it a goat track is being diplomatic."
World No. 1 Tiger Woods, who is legendary for setting his schedule around events and courses he likes, had this to say about Liberty National, "It's interesting."
He didn't elaborate, but one got the feeling Woods was not a fan, despite the scenic views of the New York City skyline.
- Bad time for Paul Casey to be battling a rib injury. Not only is he costing himself a chance at the $10 million annuity in the FedEx Cup playoffs, there is no telling whether or not he'll be healthy enough to compete in the European Tour's stretch run of the inaugural Race to Dubai, which was patterned after the FedEx Cup.
- The doom and gloom of losing many events on the LPGA Tour's schedule seems to be slowing. The Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic re-upped for next year and the event will be played 4th of July weekend. That came on the heels of Wegmans extending its' contract through 2012.
- Congratulations to Annika Sorenstam on the birth of her first daughter, Ava.