- Associated Press - Monday, September 19, 2011

LEMONT, ILL. (AP) - Fred Couples has a short list of candidates to be a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup, and he says he will use the Tour Championship as one last audition.

One player who didn’t make the U.S. team and won’t be sweating it out his Tiger Woods.

And he won’t even be playing at East Lake.

Couples made it clear three weeks ago that he would use one of his captain’s picks on Woods, and he explained his logic Sunday night during a conference call after 10 players earned a spot on the U.S. team.

“I just decided to let everyone know that they were really playing for one spot,” he said. “I felt it was justified to my team, also, that anyone outside of the top 10, they were fighting for one spot.”

That’s what made the final round of the BMW Championship so critical.

Ultimately, the only thing that changed in the U.S. standings was the order in which they finished. Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and David Toms held the last three spots on the team. Those positions were up for grabs Sunday at Cog Hill, and only were settled when Brandt Snedeker had his worst round of the week (74) and Bill Haas imploded on the back nine and shot 42.

“I knew if I played well, something good would happen,” Haas said. “And I knew if I played bad, nothing would happen.”

Alas, all is not lost, even if it might look bleak.

Couples said Snedeker, Haas and PGA champion Keegan Bradley are “the leaders in this three-ring circus” to be his other pick. He is to announce his selection Sept. 27, the Tuesday after the Tour Championship.

The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 17-20 at Royal Melbourne, the only course where the International team won, in 1998.

“We still have another week, but that could easily change anyone’s mind,” Couples said. “I want these guys to know that the Tour Championship is still deciding my second pick.”

Most signs point toward Bradley, a 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie whose two wins this year include a major championship. The Presidents Cup list is based on PGA Tour earnings over the last two years, with double the value this season. Bradley had only one year to collect points, which is why his wins at the Byron Nelson Championship and PGA Championship were not enough to qualify on his own.

Mahan believes Bradley is the only logical choice. He lobbied for him Friday, when Mahan appeared safe to make the team on his own, and even on Sunday when Mahan thought a poor finish might bump him out of the top 10.

“I don’t think anyone else is really an option,” Mahan said. “Not over a guy who won twice, including a major. I think he’s earned that right. What else do you want him to do? It’s a money list over two years, and he only had one year. He won a major. I know what I would do. Everyone is talking about young guys, and he’s done a pretty good job. I don’t understand what the problem would be.”

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