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Golf Tidbits: Spieth should get Presidents Cup nod

<p>He may have started the year with no status on the PGA Tour, but Jordan Spieth should be a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - He may have started the year with no status on the PGA Tour, but Jordan Spieth should be a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

The two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, but Spieth has done more than enough this year to play his way onto the Tour and into contention for the Presidents Cup squad.

As we saw at the Solheim Cup, especially with the Europeans, there is nothing wrong with bringing in new blood to national teams.

Before we break down those who U.S. captain Fred Couples will have to choose from, let's look at the 10 who qualified for the team.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson finished first and third on the points list. Except for 2008, when Woods was recovering from a broken leg and knee surgery, the two have been on every team together since 1997. Mickelson has been on every team since 1994.

Combine all those teams, and the United States' team record is 7-7-1. You read that correctly. Since 1997, the good ole US-of-A is just 2-6 in the Ryder Cup, but has owned a 5-1-1 mark in the Presidents Cup.

Can we blame Woods and Mickelson for that? Hardly, but it is stunning the two best players of their generation couldn't carry the U.S. teams to better records.

Zach Johnson poured in a 26-footer for birdie in the final round Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. That putt locked him into the 10th spot on the team. That means Johnson will be playing for the sixth time in the last eight international team events for the United States.

Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar all made the team. Stricker will play his seventh straight international team event, while Mahan plays his sixth in the last seven after he narrowly missed last year's Ryder Cup team. Kuchar will play his fourth straight team event.

Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas were the final four qualifiers. The first three played last year's Ryder Cup for their first team event, and Haas competed at the 2011 Presidents Cup.

Lots of old blood on that team. Maybe not age-wise, but experience-wise anyway. And with the measly 7-7-1 mark, it seems wise to squeeze some fresh blood onto the team.

Couples, who will make his picks on Wednesday, as will International team captain Nick Price, will have a tough task getting new blood on the team.

Though Spieth has seemingly done the most to make the team, he did it all this year and is just 22nd on the points list. There are 11 people ahead of him who Couples could chose.

The first four out on the points list were Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson.

Simpson played on the 2012 Ryder Cup team, while the other three have played on the last three U.S. teams. Furyk has been on every team since 1997, joining Woods and Mickelson as long-standing international team players.

Couples said in an interview late Monday, "How do you not pick that guy (Simpson), who has been in the top 10 for two straight years here and up until the very last second, he gets pushed out?"

Honorable stance, but Simpson has as many missed cuts (four) as top-10 finishes this year, and in his last seven starts has finished between 11th and 64th. Is that enough?

Furyk has four top-10s in his last five starts, but hasn't been able to close out events. That goes back to his Ryder Cup singles match last year, where he was 1-up with two holes to go, but lost both to lose the match 1-down.

Dustin Johnson won the season-opening event in Hawaii, but has four other top-10s since, and Watson has just three top-10s all year. If you're looking for the hot player, neither of these fit the bill.

In the seven players ranked 15th to 21st on the points list, you have four players who have won this year and three former U.S. team players.

Of those seven, Billy Horschel has the best resume this year -- a win and seven top-10 finishes -- but in his last eight events, his best finish was a tie for 30th. If the teams were picked in June, he would have gotten the nod, but not now.

That brings us back to Spieth. He won the John Deere for his first PGA Tour title and finished second in Puerto Rico and North Carolina at the Wyndham. He has ripped off eight top-10 finishes this season, including four top-six finishes in his last eight events.

If you want hot players, Spieth is the way to go. If you're going to keep bringing the same guys, Simpson and Furyk are your choices.

Couples might feel for Simpson and Furyk, who he's captained twice and been on the same team with three times, but only one should get the nod. Spieth deserves a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

IS TSENG SNAPPING OUT OF HER SLUMP?

Early in 2012, Yani Tseng looked as though she was going to build the biggest lead ever seen in the women's or men's world rankings.

She had won three of the first five events, and didn't finish outside the top 12 in the first nine tournaments. But something happened that effected her on and off the course.

"It's a really long story, but really, I go through lots of things, and my life has been really tough, and it's not just about golf and outside of golf. But I feel like I've become more mature," Tseng said on Saturday. "I know I didn't have a great result, but as a person I feel like I learned so much with my family and friends and for my life and not just about golf. I learned from this two years. So I've been really appreciating everything I got."

In the final 15 events last year, she finished inside the top 25 only four times, although three were top-five finishes. She opened the 2013 season with second- and third-place finishes, but didn't visit the top 10 again until this past week.

From March to June, her best finish was a tie for 19th and she missed four cuts in a row, including two at majors. Tseng has dropped from first to 16th in the world rankings, after Stacy Lewis ended Tseng's 109-week run atop the rankings earlier this year.

After nine straight rounds of par or worse, Tseng has broken par in five of her last eight rounds. In that run, she matched her season best with a 63 last Saturday in Portland.

Hopefully, last weekend was the turning point for Tseng, because the game is better off with her battling for titles, and not battling to make the cut.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Henrik Stenson is as hot as any golfer on the planet right now. He has six top-10s in his last seven starts, including his first PGA Tour win since 2009.

* Sergio Garcia is one of the most talented golfers on the PGA Tour, but he only has himself to blame for not having more wins. Garcia has had 11 54-hole leads in his PGA Tour career, but won just three of those events. This year, he has lost two 54-hole leads, in part because he ranks 167th on Tour in final round scoring average (72.38). Can't blame anyone but yourself for that, Sergio.

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