GREG NORMAN has been dropped as captain of the 2013 Presidents Cup International Team in favour of Zimbabwe’s three-time major winner Nick Price.
Announcing the selection of Price and the re-appointment of American captain Fred Couples this week, US PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem admitted Norman would have like to continue in the role he undertook in the last two cups but said it was time for a change.
And Finchem foreshadowed in future the US Tour would relinquish its role in choosing the international captain.
Norman released a statement on his website congratulating Price on his appointment.
“Nick already has an excellent rapport with many of the international players and will do an excellent job in the buildup to the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village.” Norman said in the statement. “The International team is a team of champions representing many countries. There is no question they have the credentials to win the 2013 President Cup. I wish Nick and his team well towards this quest. I look forward to my on-going support of the International Team in the coming years.”
Explaining the appointment of Price, who played in five Presidents Cups, Finchem said that while the US with the benefit of the Ryder Cup [Where Davis Love will be the US captain this year] had a team event every year the Internationals only had the opportunity every two years.
He basically said that while Norman had done a good job in his unsuccessful campaigns in San Francisco in 2009 and at Royal Melbourne in 2011 and would be welcomed back by the players, time was running out for Price to have his opportunity.
“Nick certainly was at the top of the list of players going forward simply because he had given so much to the Cup, he’s such a popular player, etcetera, etcetera, and yet he was getting older, and we wanted to – not that he’s ancient, he’s still a young guy – but in terms of his connection with the players,” Finchem said.
“So that was the tilting factor. Greg was terrific. He was great with the decision not to move forward. I think he would have been pleased to move forward, but I think going forward, we’ll look back and Greg Norman’s captaincy was important to the development of the Presidents Cup, and we appreciate it very much.”
Finchem said it had been mentioned to him in Australia last year and earlier that in the evolution of the Presidents Cup it would begin to make sense “to start to separate the internationals from the U.S. from a management standpoint, starting with the captains.”
He said this had been discussed with the heads of the international tours and with players.
“… this would be a structure that would somehow involve the other Tours and maybe past captains or players who have played a certain number of Cups to take a lead role in deciding the captain, which is just more the natural evolution,” he said.
Price, a former world No.1 with five Presidents Cup appearances, three majors and a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame, was ecstatic with his selection.
‘I am both honoured and excited to have been selected as the International Team captain for The Presidents Cup,’ the 55 year old Price said.
“Ever since playing in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, it has been an event that has meant so much to me, and I have looked forward to the opportunity of captaining what I know will be a very strong International Team.”
Whilst it might be surprising to some that Norman won’t be a part of the 2013 event, many will be surprised that Couples is.
He made a few asides at Royal Melbourne last year – from memory at one of the team selection confrontations he rolled his eyes and looked heavenward and said something like “Oh God when will this all be over” – that would indicate he had had enough.
And after the US team victory he directly suggested that maybe it was time for someone else to have a go. But that was apparently all part of the show and he was just saying what he thought at the time was the right thing to say.
“I think that’s just an honorable thing to say, even though I was squeezing my leg, like, ‘What are you saying that for?,’” he told the media at Muirfield Village this week. There was definitely no equivocation about how he felt about his reselection.
‘It’s an amazing honour to be selected to serve as US Team captain again in 2013,’ Couples said. “It’s safe to say that The Presidents Cup has been a huge part of my career and my life, from playing in four events to my experiences in 2009 and 2011 as captain.
‘Those memories are unforgettable, and I feel extremely fortunate to get another chance to be a part of The Presidents Cup when we go for a third-straight victory, this time at Muirfield Village Golf Club, which is one of my favourite venues.”
The Presidents Cup, which pits the best golfers in the US against the rest of the world excluding Europe, will be on at Muirfield – scene of the US PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament this week – in Dublin, Ohio, from October 3-6 next year.