(Via USA Today)
Jordan Spieth started the year with no status on the PGA Tour.
Next month he'll represent the U.S. in the Presidents Cup.
Culminating his meteoric rise this season, Spieth was one of two captain's picks made Wednesday by Fred Couples for the biennial match-play meeting between the U.S. and the Internationals Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio.
"I'm just super stoked and happy I woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream," said Spieth, 20, who has eight top-10s this season, including his initial Tour victory at 19 in the John Deere Classic, and closed birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle to shoot 62 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday to finish in a tie for fourth.
Couples used his other pick on Webb Simpson, who hasn't won since the 2012 U.S. Open but has four top-10s this season. Simpson dropped from the last automatic spot on the team when Zach Johnson made birdie on the final two holes of the Deutsche Bank Championship, the last from 25 feet.
Couples opted not to take Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson, who were among his final four for consideration for the two picks. Furyk has been on every U.S. team in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup since 2007. In 2011, he was 5-0 in the Presidents Cup. He has four top-10s in his last five starts, including runner-up in the PGA Championship.
But his last win came in the 2010 Tour Championship.
Couples said he texted Furyk with the news because he just couldn't handle calling his long-time teammate and friend. Couples said a groundswell of support for Spieth was one tipping point. As was a text he got from Mickelson, who played with Spieth in the final round at Deutsche. "Dude, you've got to pick this guy," Mickelson wrote.
"Jim Furyk has won at Memorial. I know all the stats. But at the same time, Jordan deserves to be on the team and Webb Simpson is a class act, great player," Couples said. "(Furyk's) been on every team that I've ever been on, and I wanted him on the team badly. But in this instance I just felt like Jordan Spieth has had an unbelievable year and he's going to be the next Jim Furyk, he's going to be on Ryder Cup teams and Presidents Cups teams forever.
"I feel like at this time, it's Jordan Spieth's time, I feel like Jim Furyk is a man, he understands it, it's no fun for him, it certainly isn't any fun for me but really today is about Webb and Jordan and they are two quality players."
Spieth and Simpson join the 10 players who qualified on the points list – Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan and Johnson.
Each of the 10 U.S. qualifiers has competed in at least one Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. Four players – Spieth, Snedeker, Dufner and Bradley will make their Presidents Cup debut. The 12 U.S. players have combined for 14 Tour titles this season.
Internationals captain Nick Price added Marc Leishman and Brendon de Jonge to his team, bypassing veteran Tim Clark. The picks join the 10 who qualified for the International team on points – Adam Scott, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Richard Sterne, Hideki Matsuyama, Graham DeLaet and Angel Cabrera. Seven will make their Presidents Cup debut – Oosthuizen, Grace, DeLaet, Matsuyama, Sterne, Leishman and de Jonge.
The 12 Internationals combined for five wins on the PGA or European tours.
"(Tuesday) was one probably one of the toughest days of my life," Price said. "I had it down to three guys – Marc, Brendon and Tim Clark. To try and separate the three of them and only pick two was an exceptionally difficult task. You had experience on one hand with Tim, and then you had youth in the two rookies in Marc and Brendon. When push came to shove, it came down to who I felt is going to play Muirfield the best. This is one of those times when you wish there were 13 members of the team."
Spieth didn't make it out of the second stage of Q-School less than a year ago yet still decided to turn pro in hopes of securing a berth in the Web.com Tour finals. Instead, he earned enough money on the PGA Tour to secure temporary status and then won full status with his victory in the John Deere Classic.
He loves team sports,
"You get to get out there and get all fired up," he said. "I love feeling the nerves. I love the adrenaline rush. That's what it's all about."
The International team has only won this event once since it began in 1994 — in 1998 at Royal Melbourne. The Americans lead the series, 7-1-1. The U.S. won 19-15 in Royal Melbourne in 2011.