NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Steve Stricker earned a place on the United States team for the Presidents Cup after a second-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday moved him ahead of Webb Simpson.
American veteran Stricker was the only player on either team to move into the top 10 in the Cup points standings in the final week of qualification as he guaranteed automatic selection for October’s showdown with the Internationals.
United States captain Fred Couples and his International counterpart Nick Price will announce their two additional picks on Wednesday to round off the 12-man teams.
Stricker moved up from 11th while Zach Johnson, who began the week ranked 10th for the United States, earned his spot at the very last moment, sinking a 26-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 66 to finish in a tie for 27th at the TPC Boston.
At Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, the 46-year-old Stricker will be playing in his fifth Presidents Cup, having made his debut in 1996, and his achievement is all the more impressive given he has played a restricted schedule this year.
“I texted Freddie earlier in the week, I didn’t want one of his spots as a pick, I wanted to make the team on my own,” Stricker told reporters after closing with a four-under 67 on Monday.
“So I had a great motivation to play well this week. I’m excited to be a part of another team and represent the USA at Muirfield.”
Simpson finished joint 53rd at the TPC Boston, signing off with a 70 to fall from ninth to 11th place in the Cup standings, and leaving him waiting for a call from Couples.
“I’d love to make the team, I’d love to be a pick,” said former U.S. Open champion Simpson. “I thought about it the last two years ever since we won (the Presidents Cup) in Australia.
“Freddie is going to make two good picks and all the guys, myself and three or four (others) are playing good golf. He’s got a tough job and we will see what he does.”
Former major winners Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson and rookie sensation Jordan Spieth are also among the options available to Couples.
Canada’s Graham DeLaet qualified for his first Presidents Cup with a third-place finish at the TPC Boston, making him just the second Canadian, after Mike Weir, to make the International team.
Qualified players for the October 3-6 Presidents Cup:
United States: Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Stever Stricker, Tiger Woods.
International: Angel Cabrera, Jason Day, Graham DeLaet, Ernie Els, Branden Grace, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Richard Sterne.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes