Presidents Cup captain picks are finally in, and now we can begin fantasizing about possible pairings or matchups that we may be able to see down the line at next month’s event. Ernie Els and Tiger Woods both went to the public with their picks last week, and we will look into how we think that these players were chosen for this event.
The U.S. team captain is Woods, and he announced that he would be a playing captain in this event after rebounding from an offseason knee injury with a win in the Zozo Championship in Japan. After that event, Woods said that his play in the event certainly caught the captain’s attention that week, so this choice was not surprising or controversial.
Speaking of not being controversial, the captain’s other three picks were also not super controversial, because they are simply the three best golfers that Woods could have chosen, based on the Official World Golf Rankings. The other three choices were Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, and Gary Woodland.
The most discussed pick here was Reed, after he sparked some controversy at the Ryder Cup last year. Reed is notorious for his match-play abilities, and I expect him to play well. Reed struggled during patches of last season, but he has played well of late, and that should help him have confidence in this format. Woods noted Reed’s fiery attitude when asked about the pick.
Woodland and Finau were less talked about because of their lack of flare, but they are both incredibly solid golfers that deserve to be a part of the team. This is Woodland’s first U.S. team event, and this will not be an easy thing to jump into. Maybe Finau, who made his first U.S. team appearance last year at the Ryder Cup by going 2-1, can give him some tips.
International Team Picks
Els went public with his captain’s picks a day before the U.S. team’s, and they are a bit different than the U.S. picks. Els chose Jason Day, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, and Joaquin Niemann.
When you look at the picks, there are a lot of differences in the style of play and player that Els chose, but all four picks are clearly justified. Day was a lock for this team. He has struggled more recently than he did when he was dominating golf, but he is still clearly one of the best international players in the game.
My favorite pick of the bunch is Niemann. Niemann is one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour, but he can lack consistency due to his lack of experience. The upside with Niemann is unquestionable, and in these match play events, taking guys that make a lot of birdies and then drop a large number or two in the scorecard are not a huge liability. Niemann can dominate a golf course at any time, and I love the aggressiveness of the pick.
Hadwin and Im are more of the opposite of Niemann and Day, but being consistent is not a bad thing. Hadwin has been known as a great putter for years, and this ability allows him to get hot and pull off some crazy stretches of golf. Im was fantastic in his rookie season, and his consistency at the top of the leaderboards made him a must on this roster.