When the pairings for the first day of the President’s Cup competition were announced, most people were focused on where Tiger Woods would be playing, and with who. For those who are just here to see Tiger, he’ll be playing with Matt Kuchar against the International team of Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman in the fifth four-ball match of the day.
Of course, that was just one of the six teams that captain Fred Couples announced on Wednesday. Even though Couples is leading his heavily-favored team into competition for the third straight time in the President’s Cup, his best move was the one he made for the fourth match.
The pairing of Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth makes perfect sense, and could quickly prove to be one of the most effective match-play teams out there. They’ll match up with Ernie Els and Cup rookie Brendon de Jonge.
Many have expected Stricker to be paired with Woods, a team that enjoyed some great success until going 0-3 in last year’s Ryder Cup. Still, assistant captain Davis Love III had indicated earlier this week that while the two are great friends, they weren’t a lock to be paired up in competition.
While the Americans are the clear favorite on paper, the course at Muirfield Village will present it’s challenges, so getting off to a hot start will be important for the Cup to stay in the United States. In the four-ball format where the team’s low score plays, matching Stricker’s masterful putting with Spieth’s courageous shot-making is brilliant. If Spieth gets hot, he can shoot some low numbers. If the match comes down to the final few holes, the 46-year-old veteran Stricker will be able to rely on experience that Spieth just doesn’t have yet. The two also played a practice round together at the TOUR Championship, and have apparently hit it off quite well.
Don’t be surprised if Stricker and Spieth become the team of the tournament as the week goes on.