News & ToursSeptember 3, 2009

Norman's Presidents Cup conundrum

Barring a second-straight playoff win by Heath Slocum, U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples will have captain's picks that, in his own words, will be "nice and easy." Couples backtracked a bit at the PGA Championship saying his picks would be "nice guys," but it has since been reported that he has told Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan they are on the team if there are no last-minute upsets. (Is a win by Slocum at the Deutsche Bank Championship enough to make Couples change his mind? Probably not, but it's the only scenario in which Glover or Mahan would have to sweat their selection Tuesday after the Deutsche Bank Championship.)

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Meanwhile, International captain Greg Norman has been silent on his choices--most likely because they're not so clear cut. One thing is certain, Norman won't pick the hot player, simply because there isn't one--unless he putts a major end run and selects Nationwide Tour player Michael Sim, who was 24th in the Presidents Cup standings, but recently earned a PGA Tour promotion with his third developmental tour win in 2009. That unexpected development notwithstanding, here's a look at the pros and cons of Norman's top candidates in order of their rank in the Cup standings.

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  1. Rory Sabbatini--The winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May hasn't had a top-30 finish since, and he missed the cut at the Barclays. Still, he was on the team until Y.E. Yang won the PGA Championship to bump him out of the top 10. With nobody below him in the standings applying pressure, the South African looks like a good bet to be added. One caveat: Sabo was 0-3-1 in the 2007 Cup at Royal Montreal.

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  1. Jeev Milkha Singh--Like Sabbatini, Singh hasn't had many strong showings on the PGA Tour this summer, a T-17 at the Wyndham Championship his only top 30 finish since the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Singh claims that a rib injury that caused him to miss the British Open is healed, and hopes to catch Norman's eye with a solid performance at the European Tour's Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

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  1. Shingo Katayama--After finishing fourth at the Masters, the Japan Tour player has only made two other appearances in the U.S.--a 72nd place finish at Bridgestone and a missed cut at the PGA. He is 23rd on the Japan Tour money list. His selection seems unlikely.

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  1. Adam Scott--You can be sure Norman was hoping his fellow Aussie would play enough in the last month to merit a selection to the team. He has a 7-6-2 record in three Cups, but disappointing missed cuts at the PGA and Greensboro and an elimination from the playoffs after a T-58 at the Barclays will likely keep him sidelined. The Associated Press reports that Scott will have surgery next week to remove a cyst on his right knee.

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  1. Mathew Goggin--The Tasmanian was a rising star at the British Open (T-5), but Goggin withdrew from the Barclays with a bad back and would need a Turnberry-like performance at the Deutsche Bank to earn recognition from Norman.

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  1. Thongchai Jaidee--The Thai was T-13 at the British Open but hasn't played much in the U.S. A two-time winner of the Asian Tour's money list was T-36 at last month's PGA Championship.

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  1. Stephen Ames--It's hard to believe Ames has never played in the Presidents Cup. He'd make himself a contender for a spot with a strong finish in Boston. He's the only player other than Goggin with a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the end of May (T-10 U.S. Open, T-8 RBC Canadian Open).

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  1. K.J. Choi--An intriguing candidate in that he would give PGA Champion Y.E. Yang another Korean to hang with. Choi has played on two Presidents Cup teams (2003, 2007) but hasn't had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the Northern Trust Open in February.

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  1. Trevor Immelman--It has been a dissappointing season for the 2008 Masters champ who has been sidelined by an injury to his left wrist. He's playing in Europe this week, but doesn't expect much.

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  1. Ryo Ishikawa--If Norman is looking to bring some buzz to the tournament he cannot go wrong with the Japanese teenager. However a T-56 at the PGA Championship was Ishikawa's best finish in six PGA Tour starts.

-- John Antonini

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