COMMENTARY | When the Presidents Cup tees off later this week at Muirfield Village, most fans will have already written off the event as another win for the American team.
Ever since the matches began in 1994, the United States has maintained a strong grasp around the Presidents Cup in comparison to its International Team opponents. The U.S. holds a dominating 7-1-1 all-time record in the event, which has routinely been considered a lesser event in comparison to the Ryder Cup.
U.S. captain Fred Couples has a buffet of strong talent from which to choose all week, including the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and more players commonly found in the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Conversely, International Team captain Nick Price has but a handful of players who can say the same, most notably Adam Scott, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els. Chances are that things are about to get ugly, folks.
With all of that being said, you cannot help but wonder if Freddy Couples will experiment a bit with his team pairings in preparation for next year's Ryder Cup, at which Couples is usually an assistant captain. Many of the same players on this week's American team will likely qualify for next year's Gleneagles matches, with the most obvious being world No. 1 Tiger Woods.
If you've followed his career for more than five minutes, you probably know that Woods does not have a flattering team-play record. In the Presidents Cup, Woods carries a career record of 20-14-1 compared to a lackluster 13-17-3 record in the Ryder Cup (33-31-4 overall). While he has been paired with many different teammates over the years, Woods has most recently been stapled to veteran Steve Stricker in team matches. Stricker is once again on the American squad this week.
While it will be tempting to keep them paired at Muirfield, it is time for Couples to break this duo up.
Woods should be screaming for the split to happen. In comparison to other all-time greats like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer -- all of whom have stellar Ryder Cup records -- Woods falls woefully short in team competition. Now is the time to see if a new partner would work well for Woods instead of relying on the friendly bond he and Stricker have developed over the years.
Who is the best player to pair with Tiger this week? It will have to be someone who can stay out of his way while remaining focused and energized throughout the week. It will also have to be someone who has played extraordinary golf over the past few weeks of the PGA Tour season, because Woods will not appreciate being paired with a slouch. Finally, it should be a non-veteran.
Woods' partner needs to be Jordan Spieth.
As Tiger Woods hoisted his record 10th Player of the Year Award a week ago, Spieth won Rookie of the Year honors in a landslide. The 20-year-old American phenom dazzled FedEx Cup Playoff crowds with strong finishes and a surprising contention at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he finished second. His victory at this year's John Deere Classic -- an event typically dominated by Stricker -- further hinted at his likelihood of becoming the heir to Tiger's American golf throne.
To put it simply, fans haven't been this excited about a young American golfer since Tiger Woods. Could you imagine the powerhouse a team comprised of the "old" and "new" Tiger?
Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. He is also the Staff Writer for the Back9Network. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.
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