New Presidents Cup format makes captains’ jobs tougher

U.S. Presidents Cup captain Jay Haas will have to employ some different strategies this year.

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INCHEON, South Korea — Being a captain will be a little harder this week at the Presidents Cup as U.S. boss Jay Haas and International counterpart Nick Price will have to sit players in situations that in the past they would have played them all.

Just a month ago, the number of matches was reduced from 34 to 30, which will keep some players on the sidelines.

For Price, the reason for the change is clear: reduce the number of points in play and make the matches more competitive. The Internationals have not won these biennial matches since 1998 and are 1-8-1 in the series.

“I think we’ve seen in the past that the Presidents Cup needs more excitement,” Price said Tuesday in his opening news conference. “It needs to be more closely contested. Certainly most of us on the International team feel that that hasn’t been the case the last five or six Presidents Cups.”

Price doesn’t think he is trying to hide players in the new system but rather showcase the best players by putting out the strongest pairings.

Oddly, the argument may have merit. At times entering past matches, the Internationals have fielded the stronger team on paper yet still lost.

“Some of the veterans who have played in numerous Presidents Cups, they have had a tough time in the past, I think – certainly at Muirfield (an 18 1/2 – 15 1/2 loss in 2013) – getting them motivated, because it’s been a bit one-sided,” Price said. “So I think that’s changed. Or, with the points changed now, I think the guys are looking forward to this a lot more than any of the previous two or three.”

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Motivation should not be an issue for Haas’ bunch. However, whom to play and whom to sit will be a challenge for Haas, a three-time assistant captain.

Haas thinks that he could have to sit hotter or better players under the new scenario, an unappealing prospect for an American team that has won the past five matches in this series and hasn’t lost since 1998.

“It is a little harder just because all 12 guys used to play Thursday and Friday, and now you’ve got to sit two,” Haas said of the new system. “And if teams lose, who do you sit? Before, it was just go out there and do it.”

Haas, who did not support the format change, contends that a little more thought is required in the new edition.

“I know as a player we all want to play, (but) I’m a team guy, so sitting didn’t bother me, and most of the players assured me that doesn’t bother them, either,” Haas said. “But you look at our lineup; it’s pretty hard to sit guys, ever, much less in one match.”

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