Published September 04, 2013
| Sports Network
Dublin, OH – Jordan Spieth's whirlwind rookie season on the PGA Tour continued Wednesday when he was named a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
Spieth, who began the season with no status, was picked by American captain Fred Couples. Spieth was well down on the points list, but only because he had one season to make the team.
The 20-year-old already has a win and a playoff loss this year on tour.
"I'm happy I woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream," said Spieth.
Webb Simpson, the former U.S. Open champion who was in the top 10 until Zach Johnson birdied his final two holes Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, was Couples' other choice.
International captain Nick Price took a pair of Presidents Cup rookies in Marc Leishman and Brendon de Jonge.
"Yesterday was a really tough day for me," admitted Price.
Couples echoed the difficulty. He left Jim Furyk off the U.S. team despite Furyk playing in every international team competition since the 1997 Ryder Cup.
"I texted Jimmy, I have not talked to him yet. I told him I'd talk to him today," Couples said. "I just couldn't handle it to be honest with you. I took the easy way out and sent him a text.
"At the same time, Jordan deserves to be on the team."
Spieth and Simpson join a strong American team of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Johnson and PGA Champion Jason Dufner.
Price's 10 automatic qualifiers were Masters winner Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Angel Cabrera, Branden Grace, Hideki Matsuyama, Richard Sterne and Graham DeLaet.
Couples had three rookies in his first 10 members, but they're no ordinary rookies. Dufner and Bradley are both major champions and Snedeker won last year's FedExCup Championship. All three were on the last Ryder Cup team.
Simpson, 28, has three tour wins and played on the victorious 2011 American Presidents Cup team. He amassed a 3-2 record, strengthened by a 3-1 partnership with Bubba Watson, who did not make this team. Simpson went 2-2 in last year's Ryder Cup.
Simpson had four top-6 finishes before May this year, but has only one top 10 since. That was a tie for fifth at the Travelers Championship in mid-June.
"I felt like Webb was going to be on this team the whole time," said Couples.
Spieth had no status on the PGA Tour at the start of the year, but posted five top-10s before his breakthrough victory in a playoff at the John Deere Classic.
A month after his win at the John Deere, Spieth lost in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship, and on Monday, he fired a 62 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship to share fourth. He is assured a spot in the Tour Championship, despite starting the year without status.
"I feel like two years ago I left Keegan Bradley off the team and that wore on me a little bit, especially when I saw him play at the Ryder Cup last year," said Couples. "I told him, 'Unlike what I did to you, I'm going with the young guy.'
"Jordan has had an incredible year with only one crack at it this year."
Price has five first-timers in his group, and although Oosthuizen, who is nursing an injury and may still pull out of the competition, is a major winner, the other four have scant big-golf experience.
Price may still have another captain's pick to make. Oosthuizen is scheduled to play the Dunhill Links Championship at the end of the month and if he can't participate in the Presidents Cup, Price will use a pick to replace the former Open Champion.
"I don't have any reservation in the quality of his golf swing once he's back," Price said of Oosthuizen.
Leishman, an Australian who was 12th in International standings, advanced to the third Playoff event, the BMW Championship, by virtue of a tie for 16th Monday at the Deutsche Bank.
Leishman has one PGA Tour victory. He tied for fourth at the Masters, shared 12th at the PGA Championship and finished a joint eighth at the Players Championship. He has never played in the Presidents Cup.
"It was a big goal of mine the last two years," acknowledged Leishman.
De Jonge has displayed good form of late with back-to-back top-20s in the Playoffs. He has four top-10s on the season and is 13th on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation.
De Jonge, a 33-year-old from Zimbabwe, has never participated in the Presidents Cup. He finished 14th on the International points list, which is based on the world rankings.
"Over the moon," said de Jonge. "I feel very honored, very privileged."
Perhaps the biggest snub for the International team was Tim Clark, a three- time Presidents Cupper.
"Tim Clark was the third guy," said Price. "I really thought he was going to make the team. He hasn't played much at Muirfield. His lack of length off the tee at Muirfield was probably the deciding factor."
K.J. Choi, Thongchai Jaidee and Geoff Ogilvy were among the other notable players left off the squad.
In addition to Furyk, Couples neglected to choose Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson, two huge hitters with plenty of team experience.
The Presidents Cup is scheduled for Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, the site of the Memorial, a yearly stop on the PGA Tour.
The U.S. owns a 7-1-1 record in the event against the International team, which is made up of non-European and non-American players. The Americans have won the last four Presidents Cups and all by healthy margins.