by Jeff Skinner
Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples surprised many of us when he changed his custom of selecting experienced veterans to fill out his roster. Captain Cool went off the board to select first year PGA player Jordan Spieth who waged an unrelenting campaign with his clubs to force Freddy’s hand. Spieth is the youngest American player ever to play on the Presidents Cup Team and for Freddy to leave his good friend Jim Furyk off the team had to be difficult.
But Captain America did the right thing. It may not have been easy but it was the right pick. It is also easy to understand his selection of Webb Simpson as Simpson was in the top ten all season only to be bumped out by a final putt from teammate Zach Johnson.
But the picks were the easy part. Fred’s job is only half done. Now he has to act like a true captain and make some key pairings to maximize the talents of his very deep team.
As a young rookie, who plays with no fear or indecision, Spieth would be a good partner for any of the Americans. A Spieth-Phil Mickelson pairing would take advantage of Phil’s nurturing nature. Phil and Keegan Bradley turned out great as Bradley was mentored by Phil. Bradley-Spieth would be another exciting pairing as the two young, exuberant players would play off each other’s enthusiasm.
But the one pairing that Spieth deserves, that the fans deserve and the Presidents Cup deserves is a Tiger Woods-Jordan Spieth pairing. It would be great for the rookie to play with Woods. It would be one of the most exciting pairings in Presidents Cup history. And simply put, it would be good, very good for the Presidents Cup.
Isn’t that what this “exhibition” is all about? Doesn’t the PGA Tour want to grow this event into a status comparable with the Ryder Cup? Having the greatest player of this generation paired with the young, exciting Spieth would not only groom him for future team play it would truly be a boon to the Presidents Cup.
Here’s the hard part for Freddy: convincing Woods. Now it’s time to be a true captain, not just a buddy who asks ‘Who you want to play with’ and scribble names on paper. Couples needs to convince Woods that this pairing would be good for the game and for the Presidents Cup. It would be great for Spieth and yes, for Woods himself.
Now Tiger has a reputation for being very particular with who he plays with but at the same time likes to say it is all about the team. Well, here’s his chance. Tiger’s team play record has been dismal in his last two team play events. In ’11 Presidents Cup he was a combined 1-3 in team play. In the ’12 Ryder Cup he was 0-3 when paired up. That’s a horrific 1-6 in team matches for Woods in his last two team events. Wouldn’t he be willing to try something new and maybe ditch his perennial partner, Steve Stricker?
If Tiger doesn’t volunteer to change things up and play with another, new partner then Freddy has to earn his stripes and convince him that a change is needed. Couples has crafted a lovely third career of heading the Presidents Cup and with teams that are always the overwhelming favorite it has been a relatively stress free job. This time Fred should utilize the authority granted to him by his buddy Tim Finchem and make this Presidents Cup truly different. He has a chance to change the nature of the Presidents Cup and a Woods-Spieth pairing would do just that.
It’s time Freddy…do it.