Couples picks Simpson, Spieth for Presidents Cup

Jordan Spieth
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The 20-year-old Texan has eight top 10 finishes in 2013, including his victory at the John Deere Classic to become the youngest winner on Tour in 82 years.

U.S. team captain Fred Couples selected Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth to fill out his 2013 Presidents Cup roster, surprising many who expected Couples to pick a more established duo.

Nick Price added Marc Leishman of Australia and Brandon de Jonge of Zimbabwe to the International team.

Couple's selection signifies the triumph of youth over experience, as the 20-year-old rookie Spieth started this season with no status but outplayed and out-earned the other golfers thought to be under consideration this year, including Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson. Spieth will become the youngest American to play in the Presidents Cup, while Furyk (who owns all-time the best Presidents Cup winning percentage) will miss his first tournament since he first made the team in 1998.

"Webb was going to be on this team the whole time," said Couples, in his third year as captain. "I had great help from my team and probably all of the United States and every golfer out there that I'm going to pick Jordan Spieth ... I'm going with the young guy, and our whole team is excited ... Jordan has had an incredible year ... [He] deserves to be on the team."

The move set social media ablaze, as players and fans reacted to the news that Spieth, ranked 8th in the FedEx Cup standings having become the youngest player to win on Tour in 82 years, won't have to sit on the sidelines.

"I'm just super stoked and happy I woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream," said Spieth.

Qualifying for the biennial, Ryder Cup-style match play competition takes place over a period of about two years. The top 10 official PGA Tour money earners from the 2011 Tour Championship at East Lake through last week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston (with 2013 money counting double) earn automatic bids. Each captain then makes two additional selections from the remaining field.

The qualifying criteria put Spieth -- who is in the middle of what many consider to be the best rookie season since Tiger Woods -- at a disadvantage to those players who have been accumulating money for two years, but his T4 finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship on the strength of a final round 62 intensified the pressure on Couples to use one of his two picks to put the surging Spieth on the roster.

Spieth, for his part, deferred to his more experienced colleagues on Tour.

"It would be the greatest honor I've ever had as a golfer," Spieth said of his possible selection. "There are just so many great players that are ahead of me in the standings and in consideration…but it would definitely be a tremendous honor to make the squad."

Simpson and Spieth join Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson on the United States team.

They will face an International (non-European) squad of Leishman, de Jonge, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet, Richard Sterne and Angel Cabrera.

The United States is 7-1-1 in Presidents Cup play, dominating International competition since the tournament's inception in 1994. The 10th Presidents Cup is scheduled to begin Oct. 3 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

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