While most of the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship is trying to improve their standings in the FedEx Cup playoffs, a few players are trying to earn a spot on one of the teams.
The Presidents Cup will be held October 4-6, at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. The United States Team has won seven of the nine previous competitions, and the International Team is beginning to feel the pressure.
The Presidents Cup has been held biennially since 1994. The only Presidents Cup the International Team won outright was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
With darkness surrounding the players, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to end the 2005 matches, contested in Player’s home country of South Africa, in a tie.
Ten players earn automatic berths on the team via a points system accumulated over two years. Currently Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan hold the top eight spots and appear to be assured of a place on the U.S. team.
Webb Simpson (9) and Zach Johnson (10) are on the bubble and need respectable weeks at the Deutsche Bank to secure their spot on the U.S. team.
However, a host of big names right behind Simpson and Johnson could bump them from the team.
The Deutsche Bank Championship offers an $8 million purse, and with Presidents Cup points being doubled, players as far down as Nick Watney (19) on the points list, could gain an automatic spot on the team with a win this week.
Steve Stricker (11) and Dustin Johnson (12) could move into the top 10 if they could finish inside the top 11 in the Deutsche Bank. Jim Furyk (13) could earn a spot if he finishes inside the top seven, and Bubba Watson (14) needs a third-place or better finish to make the team.
Billy Horschel (15), Kevin Streelman (16), Rickie Fowler (17), D.A. Points (18) and Nick Watney (19) could still make the team with a win at the Deutsche Bank.
Team USA captain Fred Couples will make two picks to complete his 12-man team on Wednesday, September 4.
Even though Couples has proven Presidents Cup veterans to choose from, another complication has arisen by the emergence of tour rookie Jordan Spieth.
Spieth has had a storybook season, and because he was not able to earn points on the PGA Tour in 2012, he is No. 26 on the Presidents Cup points list.
He had a win and two runners-up in 2013. With $2.7 million in earnings this season, he is No. 13 on the PGA Tour money list and finished the regular season at No. 8 in the FedEx Cup rankings.
Will Couples add the youngster to the team or choose a proven veteran?
International Team captain Nick Price is also facing some tough decisions.
Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Richard Sterne, Angel Cabrera and Graham DeLaet hold the top 10 spots on the International Team points list.
Fourteen players still have a mathematical chance to earn a spot. Australian Greg Chalmers at No. 34 in the standings could still make the International Team with a win at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Tim Clark, Geoff Ogilvy and K.J. Choi all have Presidents Cup experience, but are outside the top 10. Tim Clark (11) needs to finish No. 11 or better at the Deutsche Bank. Ogilvy’s (20) season is over, as he failed to qualify for the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Choi (23) is still alive and needs to win in Boston to make the International Team.
John Senden (21) has had a good year on the PGA Tour, but, like Ogilvy, is out of the FedEx Cup playoffs and cannot improve his position.
Another question for Captain Price is Oosthuizen’s health. He has been sidelined with injuries and it is not known if he will be able to compete in the Presidents Cup.
Price has these veterans plus some inexperienced players from which to choose on Wednesday.
The Presidents Cup, unlike the Ryder Cup, requires all players to compete in every session. Captains can only make the team assignments and hope the players bring their best game to the course.
On paper, the American Team appears to be much stronger again this year, but as we have seen recently in the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup, the favorite does not always win the match.