AKRON, Ohio – As the 2013 PGA Tour season begins to wind down, an increasing focus is beginning to build around the Presidents Cup, which looms just more than two months away. For Nick Price, captain of the International Team, creating a sense of cohesion among his squad of 12 players from varied backgrounds will be paramount before heading to Muirfield Village.
“My biggest concern is to get some team spirit and to try to get these guys together as a team before we actually get there,” Price explained Tuesday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
With a team likely comprised of players from Australia, South Africa, Japan and perhaps beyond, a group field trip may be easier said than done. The first 10 spots on Price’s team will be finalized Sept. 3 following the Deutsche Bank Championship, with his two captain’s picks made the following day. The competition will kick off one month later, Oct. 3, in Dublin, Ohio.
“That’s going to be quite a daunting task,” the three-time major winner said of rounding up his full roster once the members are finalized. “It should be a very strong team that we put together, but we will have our work cut out at Muirfield.”
Already faced with the prospect of a relatively inexperienced contingent, Price must now deal with the very real possibility that he will have to proceed without former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. The South African, who withdrew midway through his first round at Muirfield earlier this month, announced Tuesday that he will be sidelined for at least two months due to various injuries.
“I spoke to him about a week ago, and he’s not going to play until the Dunhill Cup, which is the week before the Presidents Cup,” Price noted. “So we really won’t know if he’s match fit or not until the week before, which being one of the top four or five players that I have on the team, it’s a concern.”
Despite the uphill battle his squad may face during this year’s matches on foreign soil, Price remains confident that his group will be able to rise to the occasion against an American squad that boasts a 7-1-1 advantage all-time in the competition.
“I keep saying this, and I’m going to go back to it: 18-hole match play is anybody’s game,” he added. “The American team is going to be a lot stronger on paper than our team is going to be. But it’s hard to measure the camaraderie and the willpower and the spirit of a team, because that can overcome a lot of things.”