A familiar gang is getting together at the 2017 Presidents Cup.
U.S. Captain Steve Stricker has chosen Davis Love III, Tiger Woods and Fred Couples to assist him at Liberty National Golf Club next year, it was announced Wednesday.
This is similar to the winning crew from the 2016 Ryder Cup, in which Love captained with Stricker and Woods at his side. The addition of Fred Couples makes perfect sense, as he has a 3-0 record as a Presidents Cup captain, and assisted Jay Haas to another U.S. victory last year.
For the International Team, Nick Price selected Ernie Els, Tony Johnstone and Geoff Ogilvy as his captain’s assistants.
“Quite simply, I’m not sure you can have a Presidents Cup without Fred Couples,” Stricker said. “I was fortunate to have him as my captain during the 2009, 2011 and 2013 Presidents Cup events, and the moment I was asked to be U.S. Team captain, I knew I’d want Fred to be a part of the team’s leadership as well. Freddie has his own style in the team room, and it’s one the players really respond to, myself included. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m sure.”
Certain questions are raised by these picks:
What about Couples and the Ryder Cup?
The lingering question about Couples is whether he will be brought into the Ryder Cup fold at any point. Given his Presidents Cup success, his distinguished regard by players and fans, and his five stints as a Ryder Cup player from 1989-97, Couples would seem to be a good fit for the captaincy, but he’s been left out thus far.
When the Ryder Cup Task Force convened after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles, Couples was a common name bandied about before Love was handed the reins for Team USA.
What if Tiger qualifies to as a Presidents Cup player?
After a year away from the Tour, due to health issues, Tiger returns to the PGA Tour next week at the season-opening Safeway Open. What if he rekindles the old Tiger magic? This is Stricker’s response:
“Tiger certainly could play his way onto the U.S. Team, and if that happens, replacing him as a captain’s assistant will be a great problem for me to have,” Stricker said. “But if he doesn’t, I’m honored he accepted this role for the first time in his impressive Presidents Cup career. Tiger has been a great teammate and friend over the years, and I know the U.S. guys will benefit from the experience and camaraderie that only Tiger can bring.”
Who is Tony Johnstone?
While he is not a household name in the United States, the Zimbabwean Johnstone is a very familiar figure on the European Tour and Sunshine Tour. He has 23 victories combined on those tours. This will be his third time as a Presidents Cup captain’s assistant. Here is what his captain said about him:
“I wouldn’t want to serve as captain again without Tony by my side,” said Price. “He’s been with me every step of the way – not only as part of the 2013 and 2015 teams, but also as my good friend and confidant since childhood. Tony’s positive attitude is mixed with a competitive spirit that makes him the perfect team leader. We are so excited for the opportunity to work together again with an eye toward capturing the Cup.”
Junior Presidents Cup
Also announced Wednesday, a new Junior Presidents Cup will be inaugurated next year at Plainfield Country Club, a 40-minute drive from Liberty National Golf Course, where the Presidents Cup will be contested Sept. 26-Oct. 1.
The American Junior Golf Association and the PGA Tour partnered to create this event for 24 boys, ages 19 and under, to compete in a two-day competition, Sept. 25-26.
David Toms (USA) and Trevor Immelman (Int’l) were named team captains, with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player serving as honorary team captains.