Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Nicklaus Picks Leonard for Presidents Cup

Congratulations to Texas boy Justin Leonard for his selection to the Presidents Cup team. Leonard was one of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus' two captain's picks.

Was Leonard the right choice? He's definitely in the just-below-the-top tier among Tour players (Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are in a tier all their own right now). He's won twice this year, he was No. 11 on the points list and he has tons of experience in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups.

But I wouldn't have chosen him. Leonard is a very streaky player, and he's not on a good streak right now. He's missed the cut in his last two tournaments and was 52nd the year before that. And while he has tons of experience in these international team competitions, most of it is bad.

There's nothing wrong with Leonard's Presidents Cup record in limited time, but Leonard is one of the worst Ryder Cup players in the history of the event. He's just not a very good match-play player.

I would have selected Zach Johnson, a fiery competitor who would bring some intensity to the team. Johnson hasn't won this year, but he was No. 12 on the points list and has played better of late than Leonard.

But Leonard fits the "proven veteran" mold that coaches, managers and captains in all sports follow. They never choose a young first-timer unless they are forced into it.

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