DUBLIN, Ohio — The last time Nick Price took part in the Presidents Cup, he snapped a putter over his knee walking off the 18th green after losing a critical singles match in South Africa. He will return 10 years later as captain of an International team that has only one victory in nine tries.
Price, a three-time major champion and among the most popular players of his generation, was selected to be International captain for the 2013 matches. The PGA Tour asked Fred Couples to return as U.S. captain for the third straight time.
“This has been a moment that I’ve been waiting for an awful long time,” Price said. “It’s probably the most excited I’ve been about anything in the last five or six years. This is a huge honour, and I’m very, very excited about it.”
Greg Norman had led the International team the last two matches, both losses to Couples and the Americans, including last year at Royal Melbourne. Norman pushed hard for changes, and Ernie Els was among those who felt Norman should have been given another shot at being captain. Among the issues Norman raised was that the International team did not have enough input about when the matches were held outside the United States.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said one change would be selection of the International team captain. Starting with the 2015 Presidents Cup, the leaders of international tours would take part in picking their captain.
The Presidents Cup will be played Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village, the course Jack Nicklaus built and the only course to host the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and Presidents Cup.
Couples, overlooked as a Ryder Cup captain, is wildly popular with the players in the Presidents Cup, and it shows on the golf course. The Americans have never trailed after any session each of the last two events, winning at Harding Park in 2009 and at Royal Melbourne in 2011 by a comfortable margin.
“We just somehow get the lead and we stay in the lead and we win, and I think Nick will try his best to figure a way how to not have that happen,” Couples said.
Couples joins Nicklaus as the only U.S. captains to serve at least three times. Nicklaus was a captain four times with a 2-1-1 record.
Price played in the Presidents Cup the first five times, more than any other captain on either side. Couples defeated Price in singles in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994. But it was Price who answered critics that the Presidents Cup lacked intensity.
He was locked in a tight match with Kenny Perry on the final day at Fancourt in 2003, all square coming to the final hole. Perry holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th, and Price had a 6-foot birdie putt to halve the match. It missed, and he broke his putter across his knee after shaking hands with Perry.
Asked his recollections of his last Presidents Cup, Price smiled and said, “Breaking my putter on the 18th green in front of Jack and Gary (Player).”
“I knew how important that point was going to be,” he said. “I think when you’re around the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup over the years, you know they’re swing games, and I had one of those swing games. So I was trying probably as hard as I’ve ever tried over a putt. I was just happy that it all halved at the end, otherwise I would have felt sort of really guilty about missing that putt.”
That was the year the matches ended in a draw when it was too dark to continue.