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Fred Couples and Nick Price announce their Captains' picks

September 4, 2013

With the start of competition at The Presidents Cup 2013 less than one month away, the final four players for the event were determined today as U.S. Team Captain Fred Couples and International Team Captain Nick Price announced their captains' picks.  Couples selected Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth, and Price chose Australian Marc Leishman and his Zimbabwe countryman Brendon de Jonge.  With these picks, the U.S. Team has 28 previous Presidents Cup appearances amongst its members, including three players who at Muirfield Village Golf Club, site of this year's event (Matt Kuchar-2013, Steve Stricker-2011 and Tiger Woods-2012, 2009, 2001, 2000, 1999).  For the International Team, those numbers are 17 and one (Ernie Els, 2004).

Spieth, Leishman and de Jonge will be making their Presidents Cup debut, marking only the second time in history  - outside of the inaugural event - that three of the four captains' picks were event "rookies" (2003 - K.J. Choi, Tim Clark, Fred Funk)

The top-10 players for the International and U.S. Teams who will compete in The Presidents Cup 2013 were determined on Monday with the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship. The 10 th Presidents Cup - a team, match-play competition featuring 24 of the world's top golfers - comes to Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, October 1-6. 

U.S. Team Captain's Picks

Webb Simpson, No. 11 in the U.S. Team standings, has been above or near the top 10 in the standings all of the two years in which players earned points from the start of the 2012 season through Monday's deadline at the Deutsche Bank Championship. It came down to the final holes between Simpson, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and Zach Johnson, who were paired together in the final round at TPC Boston. As Johnson finished with a birdie to secure his position on the team and Stricker's T2 moved him to No. 7, Simpson fell to No. 11 in the standings and on the outside looking in.

Simpson, 28, enjoyed a strong debut as one of six rookies on The Presidents Cup 2011 team in Australia with a 3-2-0 record. Partnering with Bubba Watson as the first pairing of the event at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Simpson and Watson defeated Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa to set the tone as part of the U.S. Team's 19-15 victory. Simpson and Watson continued to be the leadoff group throughout the week, winning three of their four matches.

In addition to his three PGA TOUR wins over the past three seasons, Simpson also has four runner-ups as part of 29 top-10 finishes during that time.

Joining Simpson will be PGA TOUR rookie and first-time Presidents Cup participant Jordan Spieth, whose impressive final-round 62 at the Deutsche Bank Championship gave him a T4 finish and may put the exclamation point on a 2013 campaign that convinced Couples to give him the nod. Spieth finished at No. 22 in the U.S. Team standings, impressive considering he had just this year - and 21 events - in which to earn points.

Spieth started the 2013 season without status on the PGA TOUR. The 20-year-old from the University of Texas began the year by playing in TOUR events via tournament sponsor exemptions with hopes of earning enough money to gain his card for next season. A runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open followed by a T7 at the Tampa Bay Championship put Spieth in good position to reach that goal. More top-10 finishes came at the RBC Heritage (T9), the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (T7) and the AT&T National (6).

Spieth then made history at the John Deere Classic when, at age 19 years, 11 months, 18 days, he became the youngest winner on the PGA TOUR since Ralph Guldahl won the 1931 Santa Monica Open at age 19 years, 2 months, 4 days. Since 1900, Spieth is only the fourth player under age 20 to win on TOUR. The win was highlighted by a holed 45-foot bunker shot on the 72 nd hole to force sudden death with defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn. With the win, he earned full membership status on TOUR and became eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs. He lost in a playoff two weeks later at the Wyndham Championship to finish T2, and his T4 at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday gave him his eighth top-10 finish of the season, which is tied for second-most on TOUR, behind Bill Haas' nine.

Spieth is currently No. 10 in FedExCup points and guaranteed of reaching the FedExCup Playoffs finale in Atlanta.  He is the second player to start a PGA TOUR season with no status and reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, joining Tiger Woods (1996), but Spieth is the first to do it in the FedExCup era.  He will be the youngest player to reach the TOUR Championship (Woods was 20 years, 9 months, 27 days on Sunday of the 1996 event). 

Spieth joins seven past President Cup participants who were named captain's selections after finishing 20 th or lower in the standings: Tsukasa Watanabe (20 th , 1994 International Team); Fulton Allem (22 nd , 1994 International Team); Paul Azinger (24 th , 2000 U.S. Team); Trevor Immelman (22 nd , 2005 International Team); Mike Weir (20 th , 2007 International Team); Ryo Ishikawa (20 th , 2009 International Team); and Tiger Woods (29 th , 2011 U.S. Team).  Spieth is the first PGA TOUR rookie to play in The Presidents Cup and the second-youngest participant ever, behind Ishikawa, who was 18 years old in 2009.

"All along, I was going to take No. 11," said Couples.  "And with Webb being in the top 10 for two years only to get pushed out with one putt - there was no way I could leave him off.  Webb is a world-class player and a great teammate.

"As for Jordan, I feel like he is one of our top players, even though he is only 20. I'm excited to have a young kid on the Team. I left Keegan out two years ago, and that was a killer decision, and he has become one of the best young players in the game. It's a team game, and everybody I talked to on the team wanted Spieth. He definitely deserves it."

International Team Captain's Picks

Joining the five Presidents Cup "rookies" who automatically qualified for the International Team [Louis Oosthuizen (No. 5); Hideki Matsuyama (No. 6), Branden Grace (No. 7); Graham DeLaet (No. 8); and Richard Sterne (No. 9)] are Marc Leishman and Brendon de Jonge, who will be making their Presidents Cup debuts.  Nick Price is only the second International Team captain to select two first-time participants as captain's picks (Gary Player, 2003).

Leishman, 29, makes it three Australians on the International Team (Adam Scott, Jason Day), matching 2009 for fewest total players representing Australia. The winner of the 2012 Travelers Championship, Leishman played well in the middle of the year with a T4 at the Masters Tournament, a T9 at the RBC Heritage and a T8 at THE PLAYERS Championship. Leishman was paired with fellow Aussie Adam Scott during the final round of Scott's first major championship victory at the Masters. Leishman shot 64 in the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, finishing T16 to move to No. 12 in the International Team standings. Leishman is currently No. 58 in the FedExCup standings.

Zimbabwe's de Jonge, 33, will also be making his Presidents Cup debut. He finished No. 14 in the standings, bolstered by his T9 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which included a final-round 66 for his fourth top-10 finish of the year. de Jonge currently ranks No. 26 in the FedExCup standings in an attempt to reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the first time in his career.

With seven players making their Presidents Cup debut, the 2013 International Team will have the most first-time players of any team in the event's history.

With de Jonge and Leishman as captain's picks, the International Team will have five players from South Africa, three Australians, and one player from Japan, Canada, Argentina and Zimbabwe, matching 1994, 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2007 for most countries represented. There have never been more than four South Africans on the International Team in event history (2007), and only Australia has had five players on the International Team at one time (1994, 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2011).

"Yesterday was one probably one of the toughest days of my life," said Price. "I had it down to three guys - Marc, Brendon and Tim Clark.  To try and separate the three of them and only pick two was an exceptionally difficult task.  You had experience on one hand with Tim, and then you had youth in the two rookies in Marc and Brendon.  When push came to shove, it came down to who I felt is going to play Muirfield the best.  This is one of those times when you wish there were 13 members of the Team."

The top-10 U.S. players who earned the most official PGA TOUR money from the 2011 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola through the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship (with money earned in 2013 counting as double) automatically made the U.S. Team.  The top-10 international players (excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup Team) from the Official World Golf Ranking after the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship automatically made the International Team.

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