Presidents Cup 2013: Last-Minute Day 1 Outlook for Marquee Players
The 2013 Presidents Cup fires up Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, with six fourball matches between the USA and International teams.
All 24 world-class players will be in action with exceptional partners in these two-on-two battles, but golf fans will have their eyes focused on several superstars in particular.
Adam Scott is the headliner for captain Nick Price's visiting squad. The Aussie is the planet's No. 2 golfer, and Woods' former caddie Steve Williams is carrying his clubs.
The next highest in the world rankings on the international side is Scott's compatriot Jason Day (No. 16), but eight U.S. team members are above him.
We would be remiss not to mention Jordan Spieth, who is emerging as the "next big thing" in American golf.
Below is a more detailed analysis of these notables and how they should fare to start off the 10th edition of this renowned biennial showdown.
The five-time winner of the Memorial Tournament—a high-profile PGA Tour event held annually at this venue—is destined to have great success in this Presidents Cup.
Woods is paired with the quiet but confident Matt Kuchar in fourball.
Since both captains—Price and the USA's Fred Couples—get to see the lineups and mix and match, it's reasonable to infer that the International team is sacrificing this one.
To counter the Americans' dynamic duo, Price has deployed Presidents Cup rookie Marc Leishman and Angel Cabrera. The latter man does pop up often in majors and is a two-time champion in such tournaments, but he isn't consistent at all.
This should be an easy point for the USA, and with Woods having a week to rest after he said he was "out of gas" at the Tour Championship, he should be back in top form.
The leader of the International team is the only other member to win an event on the PGA Tour in 2013. It will be on Scott to be at his best for the underdogs to have any chance.
Among the seven rookies on Scott's side, perhaps the most intriguing is 21-year-old Hideki Matsuyama, who tied for 10th in the U.S. Open, finished joint sixth in the Open Championship and tied for 19th at the PGA Championship.
Not a bad performance in the year's final three majors, to say the least.
Matsuyama will pair with Scott in squaring off with 2011 FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas and 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson.
This is the only match in which the internationals might be considered favorites, mostly due to Scott's star power and track record this season in capturing titles at the Masters and Barclays.
The unstoppable 2012 Ryder Cup tandem of Mickelson and Keegan Bradley reunites in an attempt to rekindle the magic against South African major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Mickelson hasn't played at quite as high a level since winning the Open Championship.
That triumph took place at Muirfield on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean—after which this Presidents Cup course is named.
A year ago, there was no stopping Mickelson and Bradley, as the two went 3-0 and dominated every opponent. Thus, no one should doubt the often questionable and unconventional methods that define "Phil the Thrill."
Phil Mickelson serious about victory at Pres Cup. Last wk he called in a ping pong coach to his house to sharpen game #notkidding— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) October 2, 2013
That positive mojo from Medinah last year should translate well to this competition for Lefty and Bradley, although it is worth noting that Schwartzel and Oosthuizen are no slouches.
Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to win at Augusta National in 2011, while Oosthuizen ran away with the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews by seven shots.
Who will accumulate the most Presidents Cup points?
As talented as Day is—and as impressive as it is that he's had four top-three finishes in majors at the age of 25—he only has one win on the PGA Tour.
Day is joining forces with Graham DeLaet to kick off the Presidents Cup. DeLaet is another wild-card rookie, but he has been the best all-around ball-striker statistically this season on the International team.
The upside is huge for this duo, but it hinges on their short games and putting.
While one of Day's opening opponents, Hunter Mahan, isn't known for his prowess with the flat iron, Brandt Snedeker certainly is. If Snedeker's putter is on—and chances are it will be—things could be difficult for Day.
What helps is that Day is an Ohio resident and has played the course many times, though he's never finished in the top 25 at the Memorial.
In his breakout 2013 campaign, the recently crowned PGA Tour Rookie of the Year posted nine top 10s, tying a tour-best record with Haas and Snedeker. The former University of Texas standout also won the John Deere Classic and finished eighth in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Spieth stands out mostly because of his all-around game and his penchant for closing in epic fashion.
The 20-year-old wound up fourth in final-round scoring average and third in all-around ranking, behind only Woods and Steve Stricker.
Check out what he did during the practice rounds with those seasoned veterans:
20 yr old Jordan Spieth just dunked an ace on famous par 3 12th at Muirfield Village while practicing with Tiger, Stricker & Kuchar— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) October 2, 2013
Had an Ace today! Tiger didn't care.. he birdied the next 2 on us. Ready to tee it up with #theSavage by my side— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) October 2, 2013
All of this bodes well for Spieth's overall outlook—and especially with regard to singles play Sunday—but before that, he will focus on the task at hand and should be utilized on the regular by Couples.
Alongside Stricker, Spieth will square off with Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge in the fourball opener.
The prodigious Spieth brings an undeniable spark to this competition, and if his electric maiden season on tour is any indication, he's not liable to disappoint.
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