ATLANTA – The blueprint that Paul Azinger used so well at the 2008 Ryder Cup lives on for another U.S. team as the home side prepares for next week’s Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
According to numerous sources, U.S. captain Steve Stricker will use a pods system similar to the one Azinger made famous at Valhalla that allows for flexibility and familiarity in the team portion of the competition.
Each pod includes two rookies and two veterans, which is not surprising given the relative inexperience of Stricker’s team.
Sources say Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar will be in the same pod as rookies Kevin Kisner and Kevin Chappell; Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are with Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger; and Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are with Justin Thomas and Charley Hoffman.
Although Stricker and his assistant captains have multiple possible pairings for each player and could just as easily pair outside the pods, it seems likely teams will emerge from each group, and there are predictable pairs.
Spieth and Reed were, well, Spieth and Reed at last year’s Ryder Cup, going 2-1-1 at Hazeltine National, and many have said Thomas and Fowler, good friends who spend time together at home in south Florida, would be a potential team.
With six rookies Stricker, will have to experiment with some new pairings, and his pods offer a glimpse into what the captain may be thinking.