IT is crunch time for players hoping to make it into the 2011 Presidents Cup teams with three Australian golfers in particular needing to pull a big performance out of the hat next week to improve their chances.
The 10 automatic selections for Greg Norman’s Internationals team and Fred Couples’ US team will be finalised on September 18 following the BMW Championship.
Norman and Couples will then have a week to mull over their two Captain’s choices. That week will include the 30 top ranked FedEx Cup players shooting it out in the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
The two team captains are scheduled to announce their final decisions after the Tour Championship on September 27.
Whatever happens in the next few weeks (barring injuries, touch wood) Australian is assured of two spots in the International team with Jason Day currently at No. 1 and Adam Scott at No. 2.
The top 10 is then rounded out (in order) with Charl Schwartzel (RSA), K.J. Choi (KOR), Kyung-tae Kim (KOR), Retief Goosen (RSA), Ernie Els (RSA), Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Y.E. Yang (KOR), and Louis Oosthuizen (RSA).
After that things get very interesting. At No.11 is Royal Melbourne “local” Geoff Ogilvy, who might have done enough on Sunday when he snuck into the BMW Championship 70 man field in 69th position.
On much shakier ground are Aaron Baddeley in 14th spot and Robert Allenby 15th.
A very large obstacle in the way of Norman choosing two of these three Australians in his team is the resurgent form of Fiji’s Vijay Singh, currently ranked 12th. (Tim Clark is 13th and has already ruled himself out due to injury.)
Musing on his selection opportunities this week, Norman acknowledged that the big Fijian had been in every International Team since the inception of The Presidents Cup in 1994. Norman commented on Singh’s recent form and in particular his T3 finish at the Barclays.
A possible bolter also mentioned by Norman was Colombia’s Camilo Villegas, a rookie on the 2009 Presidents Cup Team, who “carded a wonderful 65 in the final round of The Barclays to finish T6”.
But unlike his opposing captain, Norman was clear that he hadn’t made any pre-emptive decisions.
“There is still enough time left for a lot of movement in that area of the standings, with players either playing their way in or playing their way out. You can bet over the next three weeks I’ll be keeping a close eye on those players ranked between 12 and 25, but I won’t make any decisions until the dust settles,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Couples has already famously declared Tiger Woods will be one of his two captain’s picks.
He has a host of alternatives for the second spot, including the likes of Brand Snedeker (currently 11th), Rickie Fowler (14th) and even Keegan Bradley (20th).
I’ve always thought he would go with Fowler, even though the colourful youngster probably hasn’t been scoring at his best just of late. Fowler was a big hit at the Ryder Cup last year and I’m sure his is the name the marketers whisper in Couple’s ear when he goes to bed at night. Or maybe they are now confusing things by whispering “Keegan Bradley” in the other ear.
The current US top 10 in order is Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and David Toms.
The 2011 Presidents Cup will be played at Royal Melbourne from November 15 – 20.
[box]GREG NORMAN has a history of making “bold” selection decisions, and one could suggest, quite parochial ones. In his first stint as Presidents Cup captain in 2009 he picked from left field a mostly out of form Adam Scott, insisting at the time he was picked on merit and potential. “I used one of my Captains’ selections on Adam in 2009 because I know he is a team-minded player who meshes well with the other guys on the team. And while he certainly won’t need a Captain’s pick this time around, I know that he will be a huge asset to the International Team once again,” Norman wrote this week of his fellow Queenslander.[/box]2011 Presidents Cup Tickets: Ticketmaster Australia