The pressure is on.
The U.S. team’s exciting win in last week’s Ryder Cup has shone a spotlight on the next big event, the Presidents Cup, scheduled for Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2017.
On Wednesday, the PGA Tour hosted Captains’ Day at the Oculus at the World Trade Center to drum up interest in the event and introduce American Steve Stricker and Zimbabwean Nick Price, the men who will helm the U.S. and International teams next year.
The captains took the opportunity to reveal their assistant captains: Fred Couples, Ryder Cup captain Davis Love 3rd and Tiger Woods for the U.S. squad, and Ernie Els, Tony Johnstone and Geoff Ogilvy for the international team. Lacoste was also introduced as the tournament’s official apparel provider through 2017.
During the Presidents Cup, which will be held at the exclusive Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J. — interestingly, the catalyst behind the creation of the $250 million luxury club was former Reebok chairman Paul Fireman — a Fan Experience will be held in the Oculus. The Experience will include a 44 million-yard challenge where participants will collectively drive a golf ball around the world for charity; a 4-D immersive experience; a global tasting adventure; meet-and-greets with current and former players, and a large merchandise tent where official limited-edition apparel, accessories and hard goods will be sold.
During the kick-off event on Wednesday, WWD snagged a few minutes with the captains.
WWD: After the U.S.’ Ryder Cup victory, do you feel pressure about next year’s Presidents Cup?
Steve Stricker: I’m very excited about it. Hopefully we can ride that momentum that we had last week into next year. I was getting texts from the guys on the Ryder Cup team when they saw the assistant captains named and they’re all fired up about that. So hopefully we can keep it going and ride it into the Presidents Cup next year.
WWD: You released the names of the co-captains on Wednesday but did they know before?
S.S.: Not everybody. I kept a good secret. I asked the three that I asked and they knew about it, but no one else really did. I think the Ryder Cup was on their mind and they had no time to worry about anything else. So now their focus is still having a good time after the win and hopefully we can keep a lot of the guys that played on the team and win next year.
WWD: When do you make the picks of the players?
S.S.: I’m not sure, but it’s usually about two weeks to a month out.
WWD: How about you, Nick: do you feel any pressure with the international team since the American team just won the Ryder Cup and has taken nine of the past 11 Presidents Cup tournaments?
Nick Price: After the last [tournament] in South Korea, all the guys were a lot more upbeat about this one coming up. We finished on a very positive note. If you have a look, the previous four or five Presidents Cups were not close. So the points adjustments was a huge change. I think that contributed to it. And the guys got a taste for that competition again, which hadn’t been around for a while, especially among the young guys; they’re the ones who really need to have the motivation — the rookies. I don’t feel any pressure — I mean, I’m not playing — but the hardest thing for us is to get that morale and camaraderie and the motivation going amongst the team. We’re from all over the place. If Steve wants to have a meeting, he goes to one tournament and all his players are there. I’ve got to wait for the majors — and I hate bugging the guys at the majors. We did a pretty good job last time, my assistants and myself, so I’m looking forward to it. But it’s going to be tough. They’re probably going to have seven, eight, even nine guys from the Ryder Cup playing and they’ve got some automatic pairings, so it’s going to be difficult, especially on the back door of New York. But we’re a great team and we’ll have some great players and if we get that camaraderie and get motivated early, the sky’s the limit with our team.
WWD: The tournament now has an apparel sponsor, Lacoste. Is that important? What do you like to wear off the course?
S.S.: Camouflage, does that count? That’s what I like to wear when I’m not on the road. I like to bow hunt, I do a lot of that. I don’t get dressed up all too often, I’m pretty casual. But the relationship with Lacoste is going to be a good one. This is the first year, so we’re going to spend some time on what the players like to wear — that’s the important thing, that they’re comfortable out there. But [Lacoste has] been great so far in the talks we’ve had with them. So it should be a great relationship.