Presidents Cup captains Steve Stricker and Nick Price announced their final team picks on Wednesday, with Phil Mickelson earning his 12th consecutive team appearance.
The top-10 players for the International and U.S. Teams on the 2017 Presidents Cup were determined with the conclusion of the Dell Technologies Championship last Sunday. Today, the two team captains, Steve Stricker and Nick Price, made their captain’s picks to finalize their respective 12-man squads.
Steve Stricker, captain of the U.S. Team, chose two veteran golfers, Charley Hoffman and Phil Mickelson. Despite some criticism a potential Mickelson pick had received in recent days in various media outlets, Mickelson has played on every U.S. team since the Presidents Cup was created in 1994. No one knows more about the event than Mickelson, except assistant captains Fred Couples and Davis Love III.
However, for Hoffman, this is his first professional team competition.
“I think Charley brings a great demeanor, a stability, and he’s been playing great,” Stricker said. Hoffman finished less than a point behind 10th place player, Kevin Chappell.
"“Phil, of course, has been a stalwart among these Presidents Cup teams,” Stricker continued. “He adds so much to the team, and I’ve been able to witness that firsthand on a few. He’s starting to play better. We love his attitude. Great in the team room, great on the golf course, and it’s a guy that you, when you look at a team, it would be hard to imagine not having him on the team.”"
Regarding who he might pair with whom, Stricker went all James Bond secret agent.
"“We have some ideas but I don’t think I’m going to tell you,” he said with a laugh. “We’re going over a lot of that now, and some of the past history has helped determine those questions. But it all depend on what format, I guess, that we would pair some of these guys together.”"
So let the speculation begin. Stricker did add that he wanted to see how guys are playing in practice rounds the week of the event.
“The most important part is see how they are playing, and how comfortable they are and then you go from there,” he noted.
Hoffman is usually laid back in his comments, but he was enthusiastic about being picked.
"“It’s one of those things where, you sort of dream of ‑‑ listen to all the guys talk about how great of an experience it is,” he said. “I guess I don’t know what I’ve been missing all these years, but after being a rookie at 40, I promise you, I’m going to want to be on those teams in years to come.”"
He cited his most recent team being the NCAA golf championship team in 1998 at UNLV.
"“That’s obviously an experience that I’ll never forget,” Hoffman added. “Team golf is few and far between, and I can’t wait to make my maiden voyage at 40, and couldn’t be a better spot at Liberty National.”"
Phil Mickelson needed a pick as his play this season has not been what it was in previous years.
"“To be one of the picks, because of the players and the captain and vice captains wanting you on the team, means as much as anything to me,” Mickelson said. “Although I’ve played on a number of these teams, my excitement level to be on this team is every bit as great as any team event I’ve played on.”(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)"
Mickelson said he did not know why the New York and New Jersey fans give him the backing they do, but he enjoys and appreciates it. Since the Presidents Cup will be played in New Jersey, many expect the fans to be the 13th man for the U.S. team, especially with Mickelson on board.
“I know that winning the PGA Championship there at Baltusrol was one of the coolest feelings, to feel that support. It really does mean a lot to me,” he added.
Nick Price, captain of the International Team, selected Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri. It is Lahiri’s second team, and according to captain Price, it was a unanimous choice of all the assistants to choose him.
"“In the months preceding, the last three or four months, we were probably ‑‑ you know, we were still a little bit undecided to be honest,” Price said about the International selections. “Anybody who was back far enough, you know, in the 30s, say, on our points system; if they had a really good summer, they could make it into the team. And what’s important for all of us is form.”"
He said the selection of Grillo was unanimous with his assistants the day before the selections were announced. The choice of Lahiri was a little different.
“There were three or four other guys that we were obviously looking at,” Price explained. Hideto Tanihara, Byeong Hun An, Danny Lee, Graham DeLaet and Scott Hend were on his list as was Jeunghun Wang. “If any of these guys had played well, they would have improved their chances, but nobody had really a good summer.”
Price said he and his assistants mentioned that Lahiri had great camaraderie and spirit at the last Presidents Cup.
“He was wonderful in the team room and very enthusiastic, and he’s got a great heart,” Price added. “Honestly, it didn’t take us long to make the second decision, and probably one of the shortest conference calls I’ve ever been on in my life.”
Grillo won the Web.com Tour championship to get his PGA Tour card, and then won his first PGA Tour event, the Frys.com, now the Safeway Open. In two years, he’s made his first international team in his first opportunity to do so.
"“You know, you always work really hard for it,” he said. “You expect big things of yourself, at least that’s what I did. This is a dream come true. I’ve always worked for this, and I’ve always wanted to be on this team.”"
He added that his game is in good shape and that he expects to add points for the team.
That’s the kind of attitude that can only help Price in guiding his team to what he hopes will be the second International squad victory.
"“I think certainly Korea in 2015 was a good indicator of how well everybody got on. We had a wonderful buzz in our team room the whole week. You know, everyone was there with a sense of purpose,” Price explained. “We’ve got a great mixture of guys to be honest with you, and we all love to play golf and we love to compete.”"
They will need to pump up the volume since the U.S. team includes powerhouse players who are on form, like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. Despite the strong US team last time the score was 15.5 US to 14.5 Internationals and could easily have gone the other way, and Price wants to get them over the finish line this time around.
The U.S. Presidents Cup Team is based on the top-10 U.S. players on FedExCup points from September 15, 2015, through September 4, 2017, plus two captain’s picks.
Six of the U.S. Team members participated in previous Presidents Cups. They are Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. The U.S. has six rookies, including: Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman.
The International Team is based on the top-10 international players, who are not from Europe, on the world golf rankings as of September 4th plus the two captain’s picks.
Eight of the International team played on the in the 2015 Presidents Cup, including Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Anirban Lahiri. Four are rookies: Si Woo Kim, Jhonattan Vegas, Adam Hadwin and Emiliano Grillo.
The Presidents Cup, which is match-play competition featuring 24 of the world’s best golfers, will be held at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 26-October 1.