Louis Oosthuizen takes a break during Round 1 of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 2013 Presidents Cup will feature the debut of six rookies to the event, including 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.
That many rookies could mean any number of things as the United States and International teams get together starting Thursday at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
How will those rookies, most of whom have experience on golf’s professional tours, handle the pressure of team competition, not to mention the pressure of representing their countries?
And while the natural assumption might be that the biggest X-factors in this event are the rookies, that may be incorrect.
Here’s a look at the players I think will be the biggest X-factors for their teams.
Bill Haas has had a quiet, but lucrative season.
Bill Haas brings a 1-3-1 record in the Presidents Cup to Dublin after finishing eighth in the points standings to make the team.
He won the AT&T National, but otherwise hasn’t been great, even though he made over $3.4 million.
Haas could be a star or could be dead weight, as his Presidents Cup record might indicate.
His only Presidents Cup victory came in a doubles match with Hunter Mahan in 2011 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
That means he has yet to post a single victory.
Will Jordan Spieth continue his powerful, composed play this week?
While Spieth was a great pick by captain Fred Couples based on his spectacular season, he is a 20-year-old kid who’ll be playing in a team competition of great magnitude.
There is every reason in the world to believe Spieth will once again show the composure he displayed during 2013, especially as he contended in the FedEx Cup playoffs and Tour Championship.
But then, he is just 20 years old (the youngest American to ever play in the Presidents Cup). He could wake up one morning in Ohio and realize where he is.
Louis Oosthuizen hits his tee shot on the 18th at St. Andrews.
There is probably no bigger X-factor than Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion.
Since 2010, he’s had one good season, 2012, when he earned over $3.4 million on the PGA Tour.
He’s won four times on the European Tour but has never really contended in a major championship. Oosthuizen has dealt with neck and back issues since withdrawing from the 2013 British Open.
He hadn’t played until this weekend in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, shooting rounds of 74-69-68 and missing the cut by four shots.
International team captain Nick Price will be holding his breath each time the South African is out there.
Graham DeLaet is a boom-or-bust kind of player.
There’s a lot to like about Graham DeLaet, who just happens to be the best Canadian currently in the game.
He finished in the top 10 seven times on the PGA Tour this year, including a second-place tie in the Barclays and a third in the Deutsche Bank Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
DeLaet earned $2.8 million in 2013, 44 percent of which came in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He was the only player to hit all 18 greens in regulation twice.
He’s won one time as a professional, but he’s making his first venture into a pressure-packed event.
Brendon de Jonge will feel added pressure as a captain's pick.
Brendon de Jonge was a captain’s choice for Nick Price, and he’s the kind of guy who could make or break a team in a match-play competition like this.
When he’s hot, he can be really hot. He’s a John Huston-type player, just as capable of putting up five or six birdies in a row as shooting a round over par.
He had just four top 10s on the PGA Tour this year, despite having the most birdies for the season.
A guy with his type of volatile capabilities could either be one of the leaders or the weak link.
A definite X-man.
Will Hideki Matsuyama's age be a detriment or help?
Hideki Matsuyama might be the best player on the International team that very few fans known much about.
Even though he’s just 21 years old, he has won five times around the world, including four times this season, more than anyone else on the International team this year.
He’s ranked 30th in the world after finishing in a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open and a tie for sixth at the British Open. He was the low amateur at the Masters.
Who knows how he’ll react in the heat of team competition.
And that’s what puts him into the X-factor category.