DUBLIN, Ohio – With the start of competition at The Presidents Cup 2013 arriving next week, several top players gave their thoughts in advance this year’s competition and Muirfield Village Golf Club to be held in Dublin, Ohio, October 1-6. Below are excerpts from interviews with members of the U.S. Team that took place at last week’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Looking ahead to the Presidents Cup in a few weeks, the U.S. has obviously dominated that over the years. Do you think for the competition’s popularity, there needs to be some more international success there, or it needs to be a bit more competitive?
TIGER WOODS: It’s not, not to us. We’re playing against them. We like the way it’s gone, and we’d like to keep it going that way.
Are you concerned about the status of the event if it remains one-sided?
PHIL MICKELSON: It’s not that important. Actually, the tournament is about promoting the game of golf on an international level. Who loses and by how much isn’t as important as having the guys get together in a competitive, friendly environment, put on a good show or display of golf and have some fun doing it.
MATT KUCHAR: You’re probably asking the wrong guy. I think anybody that’s on the American team would like to continue the American domination. It seems to be great support. I’ve only played in one. This is my second one. But we were down in Australia, and it didn’t seem to lack in any sort of support by the Australians, and the crowd support was great down there.
I know that history favors the U.S. Team, but maybe there’s that great underdog role as well that the internationals play, that people may like to see the underdog do well and continue to pull. It might be like the Chicago Cubs. Wouldn’t it be great for them to win? Would things change if they won a World Series? They still have huge support.
JASON DUFNER: Both teams look pretty strong. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that are playing well right now, same for them. I think as a player you kind of want the competition to be close and see where you stack up, but I think either way it goes, the competition is still pretty strong.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think that this is going to be a competitive Presidents Cup, a lot of guys playing well, a course that we’ve all played a million times. So I think that this will be a good event for sure.
Tiger, we know you like playing with Steve. Any more thoughts about potential partners for you in Presidents Cup? TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we’ve got a few. Freddie’s been blowing up my phone with some options and what he thinks for some of the pairings. We’ve got some options going into it.
We’re going to get together with Jay and Davis and figure things out, what we need to do. I mean, it’s different, Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup. You just know that you have to play all four days, and things are handled differently in a Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup because of that, where you don’t have to sit as many guys. If guys are playing, they just play and keep on playing well and just keep going.
The international team has a lot of rookies. It seems like the American rookies aren’t much of rookies at all. You guys have had a lot of success recently. Overall, do you think you have an advantage going in in that department as far as what you guys have been through the last year or two years?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: Well, I wouldn’t consider Duff [Jason Dufner] or I rookies because we played in the Ryder Cup. If you’ve played in a Ryder Cup before, it’s similar atmosphere and competition. I think we got a lot of – both sides have got a lot of great players. We’ve got a lot of guys on the U.S. Team that have had a lot of success at Muirfield.
Are you excited about the rookies?
PHIL MICKELSON: Those guys are fun guys to be around, and they add a lot off the golf course, making it a very enjoyable experience. We’re all looking forward to having those guys on the team.
Obviously, a lot of interest in Jordan Spieth. You played with him this week in a game. Without giving up any pairings or guys that want to play with him, how do you think he’s going to handle that situation?
PHIL MICKELSON: Not only is he a great player, but he’s got a great demeanor. He’s very easy to be around and very likable. That adds a lot to the team room and adds a lot to him as a partner for whoever plays with him.
I would think there’s a good chance that a guy like Steve Stricker, who partnered with him in our little Wednesday match, I would think there would be a good chance that they would spend some time together.
But whoever plays with Jordan has got a real treat because he can make a lot of birdies. He’s exciting to play with. But he’s just as enjoyable to be around.
JASON DUFNER: He’s a great player. Hess got a lot of fire. Hess going to be fired up for the Presidents Cup, to be part of that team. I’d love to play with him. He’s playing great right now. So that’s a bonus. But we’ll let the captain make that decision. The players kind of have some input, I think, as far as who they want to play with. You never know who he’s thinking he might want to play with. I think the way he’s playing, anybody you pair him with should be a good team.
KEEGAN BRADLEY: I think that Spieth is – he’s the type of guy you’d want to partner with. He hits the ball straight, has a very good putter. I’m not sure who he’s going to partner with, but I think he fits in with a lot of guys. I can see him with an older guy maybe. That helped me a lot in the Ryder Cup playing with Phil, having an experienced guy with me.
Do you want to play with Jordan?
STEVE STRICKER: We hit it off nicely the first couple days; we played Tuesday and Wednesday here. He’s a good kid. Who doesn’t want to play with him? I think everybody on our team wants to play with him.
The kid’s played great, and I’m looking forward to being a teammate of his. He’s a good kid.
WEBB SIMPSON: Jordan’s the young guy who maybe guys don’t know him well, but I played with him this week. Great kid and excited to see him playing that format. I know everybody wants to be his partner. You always want to gravitate, in my opinion, towards a young guy playing with a lot of confidence. There is just not much fear there. The rounds he’s played lately, he’s put up quite a number of birdies. It’s pretty easy to say why we’d all want to play with him.
I know it’s been kind of a whirlwind. Do you ever stop to think about where you were at last year to everything you’ve accomplished?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I won’t stop until the Presidents Cup. There’s no need to let everything sink in. I’ve got to stay focused. That’s what I’ve been saying the last few weeks. Start letting anything sink in about the year, it’s maybe not as intense about the next tournament. This next one’s the most important one in my life, and I’m very, very excited to be joining Team USA.
What do you think that experience is going to be like?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don’t know. I can only go off what other guys on the team are telling me. Freddie’s keeping it extremely relaxed. We traded texts the last couple of days. I just think it’s going to be just a great time, getting to have a partner. I don’t know who it’s going to be yet, but getting to have a partner that’s the best player in the world where you can kind of feed off each other in the same round, I think, is going to be a neat experience, especially with the home crowds.
The Presidents Cup, a team, match-play competition featuring 24 of the world’s top golfers – 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe – is held every two years, and since 1996 has alternated between United States and international venues. The Presidents Cup was developed to give the world’s best non- European players an opportunity to compete in international team match-play competition. The U.S. Team has won seven of the nine previous Presidents Cups, and the only win by the International Team came at the 1998 event in Melbourne. The Presidents Cup 2003 ended in a tie. Fred Couples is returning as U.S. Team captain in 2013, and fellow World Golf Hall of Fame member Nick Price will lead the International Team.
The Presidents Cup is a unique golf event in that there is no purse or prize money. Players are not paid for their participation, but each competitor allocates an equal portion of the funds generated to charities of his choice. Since the event’s inception, more than $27 million has been raised for charity from event proceeds, as well as contributions made on behalf of The Presidents Cup, including a record charitable donation of $4.5 million from the 2011 event alone.
Citi and Rolex are the exclusive Global Partners of The Presidents Cup.