How do you draw people into a newsletter during a week in which most of the world’s best are on the bench? You write a headline about picking your nose. Anyway, welcome to the Friday newsletter!
Making the team
Captains Ernie Els and Tiger Woods took turns choosing the final members for their Presidents Cup teams this week. Els went first, selecting Sungjae Im, Jason Day, Joaquín Niemann, and Adam Hadwin as the last additions to the International squad. Tiger then chose Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, and… Tiger Woods!
Some thoughts on the picks…
- Sungjae Im is a bonafide stud and should shine on the international stage. At just 21, Im has already topped the Korn Ferry Tour money list, notched nine top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, and reached the top 45 in the Official World Golf Rankings. We can’t wait to see how he does in the team format.
- Amazingly, Im is not the youngest player in the Presidents Cup. Niemann, the 20-year-old Chilean sensation, will also represent the Internationals at Royal Melbourne. Niemann has been lost in the hype about other young guys over the past two years, but he has as much skill as any early 20-something in the world. He won at the Greenbrier this fall and could have his breakout moment at the Presidents Cup.
- Tiger had to pick himself, plain and simple. He’s apparently healthy; he’s in form, having just won the Zozo Championship; and he has experience at Royal Melbourne. This course demands smart tactics on every hole, and no one manages a round of golf better than Tiger Woods.
- Patrick Reed might be the most surprising captain’s pick. As you no doubt recall, he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory at last year’s Ryder Cup. He played poorly, stirred drama in the team room, and lit up Jordan Spieth and captain Jim Furyk in the New York Times afterwards. He even sort of threw Tiger himself under the bus! Still, he has a pretty strong record in team competition, and he has played great golf over the past few months. And let’s be honest, if things go south in Australia, we’ll all want to see how Reed and his family handle the fallout.
- No Jordan, no Rickie. There are good reasons those guys didn’t make the cut. Spieth might not even have been particularly close. But until recently both seemed to be mortal locks for the next decade of U.S. team events, so it’s striking not to see their names on the list.
What’s this? Champions Tour golf on a Thursday? Be still, my heart! The Charles Schwab Cup Championship is underway in Arizona, the final event of the season for the old guys. Jeff Maggert leads the way following his first-round 63. He has a one-shot edge on Bernhard Langer, while Paul Goydos, Steve Flesch, and Miguel Ángel Jiménez are two off the pace. Scott McCarron, the leader in the season-long race, shot 69 on Thursday. Leaderboard
The other Schwab
Across the pond, the Race to Dubai is heating up on the European Tour. Matthias Schwab and Tom Lewis lead after one round of the Turkish Airlines Open, the first of the final three events on the Euro schedule. Lewis made a big splash a few months ago by winning the Korn Ferry Tour Championship at Victoria National. Alex Norén, Thomas Pieters, and David Lipsky enter the weekend one shot back of the lead, while Justin Rose, Danny Willett, and Thomas Detry are all two off the pace. Leaderboard
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka headlines the field at the LPGA’s Toto Japan Classic. Leaderboard
Teenage phenom Lucy Li has decided to turn professional. The 17 year-old has been in the national spotlight since qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open at 11 years old and will head to the Symetra Tour in 2020. Full Story from Brentley Romine
Shotgun Start: *DING* Tiger Woods has joined the conference call
This Friday episode begins with some immediate reactions to the televised conference call from The Woods Jupiter on Thursday night. Brendan and Andy discuss the restaurant scene and the conference call choppiness from the entire production, which left them delightfully entertained. Who forgot to mute their phone? Who came on late and needed info repeated? Who went MIA in the middle of the call? These were all relatable office-space problems that we got to watch on national television while plates carrying mozzarella sticks clattered nearby. They come up with a few suggestions for spicing up the Presidents Cup and also get into the actual substance of the picks. Did anyone get snubbed or was this an actual sign of progress in these team processes? There is also a lengthy check-in on some notable names and storylines at KFT Q-School before wrapping up with a Flashback Friday to a Schwab Cup Championship from a bygone era. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Patrick Reed was a surprising pick for the Presidents Cup team. You know what else is surprising? How many people have boring, run-of-the-mill putter covers. Dress up your bag with one of our Fried Egg putter covers today!