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A (Not So) Fearless Prediction – Team USA Will Win The Presidents Cup

A (Not So) Fearless Prediction – Team USA Will Win The Presidents Cup

By: Ed Travis

 

The teams are set for the Presidents Cup, to be played over the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey at the end of the month. The top-ten world ranked players for the International Team, plus the top-ten-point earners for the United States team have been joined by two captain’s picks to round out the teams.

 

International Captain, Nick Price added the 11th ranked international player, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, as well as, Anirban Lahiri from India, who was ranked 16th. Though both are strong players and join a team headed by world number three Hideki Matsuyama, plus Australian’s Jason Day and Adam Scott it’s hard to conceive the Internationals can prevail against the much stronger American Team.

 

The U.S. team is led by world number one, Dustin Johnson, followed by The Open Champion, Jordan Spieth, plus PGA Champion, FedEx Cup Champion, six-time winner this season and probably Player of the Year, Justin Thomas.

 

Spots four through six are filled with players nearly as impressive: Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger and U.S. Open champion, Brooks Koepka.

 

That’s a strong lineup and Captain Steve Stricker made very predictable choices for his two additional picks. Charlie Hoffman was 11th in the rankings. He lost out to Kevin Chappell on the final day of qualifying, plus a familiar face and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Phil Mickelson.

 

This will be the 12th renewal of the Presidents Cup. The first was held in 1994, Phil Mickelson was on that team and has been on everyone since. In the, not so distant future, he will surely be a Presidents Cup, as well as, a Ryder Cup Captain.

 

The prediction (which isn’t really so fearless) is, the United States will romp, maybe not by 11 points as in 2000 but it’s nearly a certainty, this year won’t be close either.

 

As in 2015, when Mickelson was a pick by captain Jay Haas, naysayers have lined up to criticize Lefty’s inclusion. Have they forgotten, it was just two years ago, when he was having a singularly mediocre season, his best PGA Tour finish was a tie for third, but he went 3-0-1 in the Presidents Cup. Granted past performance is no guarantee of future success, but it’s hard to argue that a player with lesser experience should be picked over even a mediocre Hall of Famer.

 

The other argument against Mickelson’s addition to the team misses the mark entirely. I have a lot of respect for Alex Miceli but in his “Morning Read” column, however, he offered the logic that Lefty, though playing well at the Dell Technologies Championship, hasn’t exhibited winning form since the 2013 Open Championship and was 15th in the points list, therefore a younger player should have been given that spot on the team.

 

He is correct that Mickelson hasn’t lit it up recently, though who can forget his memorable battle with Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open Championship, shooting a final round 65. Unfortunately, Stenson posted a 63 to take the Claret Jug home to Sweden, but Mickelson was magnificent that Sunday to say the least.

 

The reason Stricker picked Mickelson was not so much for his record in international team play, nor the level of his game this year, but because his maturity and leadership are an immense asset to an otherwise young team. Six members of this year’s Presidents Cup team are under the age of 27.

 

If more youthful players are to be given a chance, they just need to play better and earn their spot.

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About Fred Altvater:

I admit it – I am a golfaholic, as well as a teaching professional. I have enjoyed playing the grand game of golf for over 40 years. In addition to playing, I find teaching golf very rewarding – I love to see students when they finally hit that great shot, make the long put, chip in or kill that long drive. - See more at: Toledo Ohio Golf Lessons - About Fred