There’s an excellent chance the following scenario never takes place and becomes a non-story. If it does, though, there will be cause for major confusion at the upcoming Presidents Cup.
When United States captain Fred Couples named Tiger Woods and Bill Haas as wildcard selections on Sept. 27, he maintained that PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley would serve as the next man in line for a roster spot should any of the 12 players be unable to compete.
This news was relevant because team member Steve Stricker was forced to withdraw from last month’s BMW Championship with a herniated disk in his neck. Though he returned to finish in 15th place at the Tour Championship, Stricker won’t compete in any tournaments between that one and the Presidents Cup, which begins on Nov. 17.
Word out of the Stricker camp is that he is currently resting and undergoing therapy and will have a practice routine in place prior to leaving for Royal Melbourne.
There’s little doubt that he will make the trip with plans to compete against the International team for four days. If he were to reinjure himself or not be able to play for any reason, though, well, that’s where this situation gets a little more interesting.
According to the Presidents Cup captain’s agreement, the following rule will be in place during the week of the event: “It is agreed that in the event of illness, injury or any other emergency, a team member may be replaced prior to 6:00 p.m. local time, Wednesday of tournament week. The captain will have the ability to select any eligible player to replace a player who has withdrawn, regardless of his standing on the respective point or money list used to determine eligibility.”
What does that mean? Theoretically, Stricker – or any other player – may decide the day prior to the opening session that he isn’t healthy enough to compete for four days. Couples would then be able to replace him with his contingency plan of Bradley.
However, representatives for Bradley have told GolfChannel.com that while the rookie will travel as part of the team should Stricker withdraw prior to the week, he “is not planning to travel on the basis he might play.”
Granted, the percentages of such a scenario may be low, but they still exist. All of which could cause a sticky situation for Couples, who wouldn’t have a valuable team member nor his ostensible replacement.
What would happen under this scenario? Well, the captain is free to replace any injured player with a selection of his choice. Couples and assistant Jay Haas will at least be on site and have the right wardrobe. (Let’s assume assistant Michael Jordan wouldn’t be considered for the role.) Despite Couples’ strong year on the Champions Tour, that likely wouldn’t go over as the ideal strategy.
Again, this may be a non-story when Presidents Cup week rolls around next month, but if Stricker or any other U.S. player finds himself unable to compete, expect the inevitable fallout to cause major consternation.