First off, thanks to my boss Mike Elliott for covering the show at 8 yesterday morning. I had a chance to go to Muirfield Village for a press conference concerning the President's Cup. Seeing first hand what the tournament personnel are putting together is incredible. If you've been to the course for the Memorial, you've never seen the course quite like this. A huge amount of new bleacher seats starting on hole #11. Twelve green is almost completely surrounded... and the seating gets mjore and more down the stretch. You have to keep in mind that with match play, competitors may conclude their daily play well before the 18th hole... and tournament directors and the PGA Tour have that well in mind. Walking the course, you can get a sense that the back nine will be rockin' with chants of 'USA! USA!'.
I will say that I'm surprised at Captain Fred Couples pick. Webb Simpson seems like a reasonable choice given he's match play tested, has been consistent in the past two years, and was 11th on the qualifying list (the top ten get automatic bids). I am more than a little surprised at Jordan Spieth. Admittedly, he's had a tremendous year on Tour and sometimes it's good to have young blood on the squad. What puzzled me if that Jim Furyk was passed over. Jim has had amazing success at Muirfield Village, he's been playing incredibly well of late, and he's match play tough, even teaming beautifully with Tiger over the years. When Questioned, here's what Captain Couples had to say.
FRED COUPLES: First I'd like to congratulate Marc and Brendon for being chosen.
You know, I have done this for the third time now and I've gone with a guy, Webb Simpson for my first pick, who was inside the Top‑10 in points for two full years.
And then as you know, Zach Johnson birdied 8 and 9 to solidify them being on the team, but to push Webb to No. 11. And so I just felt like Webb was going to be on this team the whole time and that's why I chose Webb.
And then my second pick, I think came from ‑‑ I had great help from my team and probably all of the United States and every golfer out there that I'm going to go with Jordan Spieth.
I feel like two years ago, I left Keegan Bradley off the team who was a PGA Champ and also a Byron Nelson Champ, and wore on me a little bit, especially when I saw him play at The Ryder Cup last year. I was one of Davis's assistants and I talked to Keegan a little bit and I told him that unlike what I did to you by not picking you, I'm going with the young guy, and our whole team is excited.
We have a great team, but to pick Jordan I think was the right move, and Jordan has had an incredible year with really only one crack at it this year. So those are the picks.
RICH LERNER: Jim Furyk has played in 15 straight International Team competitions, and he's played well of late with four Top‑10 finishes in his last five starts, including a runner‑up at the PGA Championship. How difficult was the phone call to Furyk?
FRED COUPLES: Well, you know what, Jimmy, I've texted Jimmy, I've not talked to him yet. I told him last night that he wasn't on the team through a text; that I would talk to him today, just because I just couldn't handle it to be honest with you. Two years ago, it was a lot easier.
This time, the two guys that I wanted dearly to be on the team were Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk. That's not to say I didn't want any of the other 11 or 12 guys. Those are really my guys. I'm a little older than them, and to tell you ‑‑ I told Steve Stricker that he was going to be on the team and then he told me, no, I don't want to be picked, I want to make your team; and so he did.
And getting back to Jimmy, as soon as we are done here, I'll call him. But I took the easy way out and sent him a text and I just felt like it was just a spot that was unfortunate for him not to be chosen. Tabitha is from Ohio; they met at Ohio ‑‑ the whole thing was not fun; Jim Furyk has won at Memorial. I know all the stats.
But at the same time, Jordan deserves to be on the team and Webb Simpson is a class act, great player. And my assistant captains, Love and Haas, we went through this with several of the players, I'm not going to say I talked to all ten players, but I talked to 80 percent of them, and they felt like those picks were phenomenal. Dustin Johnson I also left off the team. As Nick Price says, you get two picks and those are who we are going with.
RICH LERNER: We are joined now by Webb Simpson, 3‑2 in 2011 Presidents Cup team. You won all three points with Bubba Watson who is not, as we said on this team. Congratulations on the selection.
Wondering if Freddie were to come to you and say, who are you most comfortable playing alongside now that Bubba is not here, which one or two guys come to mind?
WEBB SIMPSON: Well, you know, I just want to say thanks to Freddie and Davis and Jay and the American Team for believing in me, and I'm so excited, playing in Australia and coming out victorious was so much fun.
You know, I can't think of anybody I would rather play with than Bill Haas. We are Wake Forest alumni, we played a lot of practice rounds with Bill, but quite honestly, I'm comfortable playing with anybody. Bill and I have done a little bit of texting, but I'm a guy I feel like I can go out with anyone and feel comfortable with. I'm excited to get there and play some practice rounds and see what the guys want to do.
Transcript of the press conference courtesy of the PGA Tour. I've got my tickets and am ready for the President's Cup... and I'll be interested to see how young Mr. Spieth handles the event and his opponents.