SAN FRANCISCO — Here are two candidates for the next two Presidents Cup captains: current assistant captains Jay Haas and Frank Nobilo. I don’t suppose they’ll get the nod because they’re not superstar players. (In the past, the job has gone to the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Peter Thomson.) Still, Nobilo and Haas had very good careers, and Haas is still mopping up on the senior circuit.
Haas and Nobilo would be good choices because they’re smart, they know the game, they’re good guys who are respectful and respected, and they keep current with the players on the PGA Tour. (Haas follows his son, Bill, and Nobilo is an analyst for Golf Channel.) One other reason: they’re pretty good quotes. Nothing personal, but their interview at Harding Park on Wednesday morning was better and more informative than those of the current captains, Fred Couples and Greg Norman.
Some highlights of the Haas-Nobilo pairing... Nobilo,on the International team being an underdog this week: “It’s reminiscent of
’98… We were written off then, and our guys are aware that some people have said this match is going to be over by Saturday. Not to be a grinch or anything, but I saw Peter Thomson [captain of the ’98 International team] last night and I hadn’t seen him since ’98. We have a tremendous bunch of players, and we have all four
major championship winners … I think we will be a very worthy opponent for America.” Haas, on flak from team members after his win in the Senior Players Championship last week, the final major of the year on the Champions Tour: “I had not seen some of these guys in a long time, and just to see them and hear, 'Way to go, assistant.' It’s been a ton of fun. Any time you win, there’s nothing like the next few days, floating on air. To come here with that in my back pocket means a lot. I haven’t heard any funny comments like, 'We’ll put Jay in the envelope if somebody gets hurt.' Tiger just gave me a big hug and said, It’s about g-d time you won something.” Nobilo, on surprise pick of slumping Adam Scott: “A lot of people were shocked at
first. But Adam is a little like Tiger Woods; he’s held to a different standard. Great-looking guy, beautiful golf swing. Ever since he won the Players, he was the guy that looked like Tiger Woods…. This was not his best year. He comes in with experience and something to prove. Sometimes you have to fight with your back against the wall. I’m looking forward to seeing Adam in that situation.” Nobilo, on the strategy of pairings: “If one pairing is a personality clash that all of
a sudden has to be split up, then that affects every other pairing. If you look at what Paul Azinger did last year in the Ryder Cup without Tiger Woods, some could argue it was a little easier to set the team up. How can you be stronger without the best player in the world? It just shows you how fickle it is to get that right, and that’s why I think how enticing the next few days will be. I don’t think there’s a secret answer.” Haas on Tiger’s absence from winning Ryder Cup last year: “It shows you how close
they are from top to bottom. You eliminate the best player in the world and it’s not that big of a drop-off. Eighteen holes is such a short time. If you give Tiger 72 holes, he’s probably going to come out on top a lot of times. But in an 18-hole match, it’s a coin flip a lot of times.” Haas, on how friendships are often forged at team events like this: “You can go three
or four months on tour and not see a guy. You don’t play the same tournaments or you play morning, afternoon, different times, you’re not paired with him and your scores are different. Then you can go a month and play six rounds together. Look at Steve Stricker and Tiger and how they have played together in the last three weeks. Do Steve and Tiger have a lot in common other than being wonderful players? Maybe not, but how do you not like Steve Stricker? Are they running in the same circles? Everybody runs in their own circles but here, yes, I think you
find friendships that will last forever.”