2013 Presidents Cup full of rookies

11:15 AM, Sep 27, 2013   |    comments
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Columbus, Ohio (Sports Network) - There will be plenty of intrigue when the Presidents Cup gets underway as 12 of the 24 players will be rookies.

Five Americans and seven International players are competing in their first Presidents Cup. Four of the five American newcomers have played in the Ryder Cup, though, so they aren't totally rookies in the team competition.

This year's host course, Muirfield Village, is the yearly PGA Tour stop for the Memorial. When you talk about that tournament, you start with Tiger Woods and his five victories there.

Steve Stricker, 2011, and Matt Kuchar, this year, have also won the Memorial. Woods last won in 2012, giving the American team the last three winners, which is two more than the International team has combined.

Ernie Els, who has played the most Presidents Cups for this International team, was the Memorial winner in 2004 and was runner-up in 2000.

There are seven players on the International team that haven't finished inside the top 20 at Muirfield, while there are only four Americans that can say the same.

Along with the three winners, Zach Johnson was the 2006 runner-up and Hunter Mahan has had four top-20 finishes in the last five years are Muirfield.

The entire International team has 10 top-10 finishes at the Memorial.

Clearly, the Americans have the home course and home crowd advantage, but is it too much of a good thing?

The International squad does boast five major champions, one less than the Americans. Masters winner Adam Scott beat teammate Angel Cabrera in a playoff at Augusta this year, so there is plenty of talent on the International squad.

Two players that will get plenty of attention this week will be Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama. Spieth turned 20 at the end of July and already has earned his first PGA Tour title.

Was he worthy of a captains pick? He has nine top-10 finishes this season, including three second-place finishes along with his win. He was only 22nd on the points list, but earned all of his points in one year, while everyone earned their points over the last two years.

Matsuyama turned 21 in February and has three wins on the Japan Tour this year. Hardly known to most Americans, he could be a break-out performer for the Internationals.

Every player in the field has played in at least one major, but playing for your teammates is something several players haven't done before.

One bad shot and you could cost your team an entire session. I would look for conservative play, especially from the rookies, as they'll lean on their elder teammates for guidance.

Guiding the teams will be Fred Couples for the Americans and Nick Price for the Internationals.

Couples is in his third stint as captain, and seemingly could keep the job as long as he wants it. One of his players, Steve Stricker, will one day lead this team, but for now the semi-retired Midwesterner will look to lead the American squad to victory as a player.

Price is leading the Internationals for the first time. He played in the event five times and will need to play the underdog role to his team.

The United States owns a healthy 7-1-1 record in the event. If we see Woods and Els battling late Sunday night in sudden-death extra holes, we'll know that Price has done a tremendous job pulling his team together.

If that is the case, Couples will have lost his touch as captain of the team, but that isn't likely to happen with a solid core of veterans.

It could be closer than many think, but chalk up another W for the Americans.

The Sports Network

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