PALM BEACH, Fla. – Fred Couples injured his chances of being a Ryder Cup captain when he accepted an invitation to become a Presidents Cup captain first.
If the choice didn’t actually kill the chance he had of leading an American Ryder Cup team, his decision last March to accept a second term as American Presidents Cup captain probably did. Couples will lead the Americans against the Internationals again next year in Australia.
While Couples, 51, knows the odds are against the PGA of America pursuing him in the future, he isn’t giving up quite yet on the possibility he’ll still lead a Ryder Cup team.
“Yes, I hope so,” Couples said Monday at the ADT Skills Challenge. “I pushed for it once, with Jay Haas to be an assistant, and we ended up getting the Presidents Cup. There are a lot of guys [in line for the Ryder Cup], though. It’s a numbers game.”
Actually, there aren't a lot of guys lined up to be the next American captain. The PGA of America is searching this fall for its next captain with Davis Love III the frontrunner. If Couples hadn’t taken a Presidents Cup captaincy, he would have fit nicely into the Ryder Cup captain’s slot right before or after Corey Pavin, who led the Americans in Wales this year. Couples could have led the Americans in Wales or been named to lead them in 2012 in Medinah.
“The older I get, the less chance I have,” Couples acknowledged.
Why did Couples take a second run at the Presidents Cup if he’d still like to captain a Ryder Cup team?
“I chose the Presidents Cup again because I had such a blast,” Couples said. “To me, they are the same guys who play on all those teams. I know the International players really well, and so it was an easy choice for me. If it ever affected the Ryder Cup thing, then that would be my mistake, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it.”
Fellow PGA Tour pros think differently. Scott Verplank summed up the common perception on Tour.
“Politically, you’re not going to go from Presidents Cup [captain] to Ryder Cup [captain],” Verplank said. “Jack [Nicklaus] went from Ryder Cup to Presidents Cup. I don’t see why you can’t, but you know how the politics are between the PGA of America and the PGA Tour. They may be too proud to take somebody who’s been a Presidents Cup captain.”