Presidents Cup notebook: Nick Price pleased with change to opening session
U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Nick Price shake hands after announcing the pairings for the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The four-day event begins today.
International captain Nick Price didn’t get all he wanted from the PGA Tour when he proposed changes to the Presidents Cup format, but the concession he did get has him hopeful of a better start to the matches today.
Since 1998, the biennial competition has begun with foursomes matches, in which two-man teams play one ball apiece. It has not been kind to the Internationals, who in the past three competitions have been outscored by 18 points in the alternate-shot format and have trailed by five, one and two points after the opening session.
The United States leads the series 7-1-1 and has won the past four events. But when the 10th Presidents Cup begins today at Muirfield Village Golf Club, the opening session will be four-ball, in which each golfer plays his own ball, and the Internationals have a four-point advantage in the past three events.
Price said it was among the changes he requested in the Presidents Cup last year, most of which were denied by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
“This was a positive move, I think. Certainly for us it was,” Price said yesterday after he and Fred Couples announced the pairings for today’s session.
Couples said he also thinks the switch is a “great move.”
“Nick has a lot of young players. It’s much easier to play your own ball,” he said.
Price said alternate-shot is the harder format “by far” in team match play, “and because of the dynamics of our team and where they all come from, it’s very difficult to put great foursomes pairings together right from the get-go. I don’t think Hideki Matsuyama has ever played golf with a partner before, so this is new ground for him.”
The Americans, by contrast, play foursomes every year in either the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, and nine players on the team this year played in the Ryder Cup last year.
Spieth draws an ace
Rookie Jordan Spieth aced the par-3 12th hole with a 7-iron during a practice match with his partner, Steve Stricker, against Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar.
Spieth was asked about buying the group a round of drinks because he is only 20.
“Everything (at Muirfield Village) for the players and wives is open bar, so that makes it easy,” he said.
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Graham DeLaet appeared at Muirfield Village minus the beard he grew during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“It was a hockey thing,” the Canadian said of the beard, referring to the tradition of NHL players growing facial hair during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
DeLaet shaved the beard 15 minutes after the FedEx Cup Playoffs ended two weeks ago in Atlanta.
Elsewhere in hair news, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen each received haircuts so severe on Monday that their International teammates canceled their barbershop appointments.
“There was a barber that came out and it didn’t work out as well as we thought, so we ended up shaving everything off,” Oosthuizen said.
Ernie Els said he did not even recognize Schwartzel.
“I walked straight past him and had to do a double-take. They don’t even cut our hair like that in the Army, back in the day,” Els said.
Choi working as analyst
K.J. Choi did not make the International team, but that did not stop the South Korean from showing up at Muirfield Village as a golf analyst for SBS TV in South Korea.
“We want to promote the Presidents Cup to viewers in Korea who don’t know the depth or scope of it,” Choi said through an interpreter.
Choi, who won the 2007 Memorial Tournament, also is taking notes on how Muirfield Village is conducting the event, and will report back to Korean golf officials involved in running the 2015 Presidents Cup at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, in Incheon, South Korea.
Kenny G to perform
Grammy-winning contemporary jazz saxophonist Kenny G will perform during closing ceremonies on Sunday from The Presidents Cup Fan Experience area just outside the Muirfield Village gates.
The free concert is open to the public. Parking is free at the Columbus Zoo, with a shuttle to the Fan Experience.
Kenny G, who also will play during player introductions before Sunday’s play begins, will perform from after the last putt drops — about 5:45 p.m. — until about 6:30 p.m.