The 10 Biggest Presidents Cup Questions
We count down the top 10 questions heading into this year's event at Royal Melbourne.
November 13, 2011
Will The U.S. Miss Keegan Bradley?
Many people thought Fred Couples should have picked the PGA Championship winner for the team over either Bill Haas or Tiger Woods after showing he can handle adversity at Atlanta Athletic Club. If the U.S. loses, those same people who thought the PGA Tour rookie deserved a spot on the squad will say the Americans missed the spark he potentially could have provided for the Red, White and Blue.
Does the international team have a true leading man?
Jason Day is the team's leading automatic qualifier and appears to have all the tools to be one of the game's stars. However, his one PGA Tour victory came at the 2010 Byron Nelson. Ernie Els is a three-time major winner, but appears to be in the twilight of his career. Perhaps reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel will emerge as the team's go-to guy. Then again, the Internationals won't need a star to stand out if it gets a balanced team effort.
How Will Hunter Mahan bounce back?
Last year, Mahan became the goat of the Ryder Cup when he chunked a chip on the 17th hole of his singles match with Graeme McDowell to all but wrap up a European win. He will be out to redeem himself for the U.S. in this competition and also to prove he can handle extreme-pressure situations after falling to Bill Haas in the most lucrative playoff in golf history.
Is Webb Simpson really this good?
The third-year PGA Tour member could very well be the tour's Player of the Year after a remarkably-consistent campaign that was highlighted by two late-season wins. Simpson has become one of the poster boys for the belly putter craze this year, especially since he's one of the rare players to enjoy success with it at such a young age. He's certainly earned his spot on this team, but as a rookie, he'll still be under extra pressure to show he belongs on this stage.
Can Greg Norman be the difference between winning and losing?
Probably not, but at least his team can count on him being in a better state of mind than the one he was in at Harding Park two years ago. The Shark patrolled the fairways that week with his arm in a sling and having recently come off a rather abrupt ending to his marriage with tennis legend Chris Evert.
Do U.S. stalwarts Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk have anything left in the tank?
Both aging stars are coming off arguably the worst seasons of their careers and both have made recent, seemingly desperate switches, to belly putters. It will be interesting to see who Couples pairs them with and if they can put their vast experience (16 Presidents Cup appearances between them) to good use.
Will Bill Haas prove to be a worthy captain's pick?
The surprise winner of the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup will be making his first international team competition as a pro. He fared well representing the U.S. at the Walker Cup, but that was nearly a decade ago. Playing for his country will certainly provide plenty of motivation, but we'll have to see if winning the equivalent of the lottery will have any short-term effects on his golf game.
Is Steve Stricker's Neck OK?
The Americans, especially Tiger Woods, have come to rely on the quiet Wisconsin native in recent team competitions. But a herniated disc in Stricker's neck forced him to withdraw from the BMW Championship and ended any chance of him collecting his first PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. The Strick Show will give it a go after taking some time to rest, but we won't know how strong his game will be until he tees it up at Royal Melbourne.
How Big Of A Home-Course Advantage Will The Internationals Have?
There's a reason why Greg Norman stacked his squad with fellow countrymen and it's not just because he's treating this event as a buddies trip. The Shark's hope is that picking players familiar with Royal Melbourne's layout will increase the International Team's chances of winning. The fact that players like Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Allenby grew up playing there probably won't hurt. Keep in mind, the International team's lone win in the nine times this event has been held came in blowout fashion right here in 1998.
What Tiger Woods Will We See?
What Tiger Woods Will We See? Many people criticized captain Fred Couples' decision to pick Woods for the team, but the same was said of Corey Pavin last year when he chose Woods to play in the Ryder Cup. The U.S. may have lost, but Woods went 3-1, including a dominant singles victory (left) on the final day. After a rough 2011 season, the Americans are hoping Woods' three-straight 68s at the recent Frys.com Open and his third-place finish at the Australian Open are indication that he's rounding back into the form that saw him go 5-0 in the last Presidents Cup.