Tiger is a President's man

Playing captain Woods upbeat about knee's condition, US team's chances in Melbourne

MELBOURNE • Tiger Woods is confident his creaky knee could stand up to the strain, after he selected himself as one of his four captain's picks to play for the United States in next month's Presidents Cup in Melbourne against the International team.

The 15-time Major champion also named Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Gary Woodland for the biennial tournament which pits the US against a team representing the rest of the world minus Europe.

The eight automatic qualifiers were Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay.

Woods will be the first playing captain since Hale Irwin led the Americans to a 20-12 win in the inaugural event in Virginia in 1994 and recently issued a timely reminder of his class by winning the Zozo Championship in Japan.

That victory saw him tie Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins and also gave him confidence in his left knee two months after arthroscopic surgery.

"The long haul to Australia is very much like the one to Japan, and seeing how my body felt and how I reacted in Japan and how I was able to play, it certainly gives me a lot of confidence that it will hold up," Woods said yesterday.

"It's going to be difficult, but also I have three amazing assistants with Fred (Couples), Strick (Steve Stricker) and Zach (Johnson), and that helps a lot."



    • Abraham Ancer (Mexico) debut

    • Jason Day (Australia) 5 wins, 11 losses, 4 halves

    • Adam Hadwin (Canada) 0-2-1

    • Im Sung-jae (South Korea) debut

    • Marc Leishman (Australia) 3-7-3

    • Li Haotong (China) debut

    • Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) 4-6-3

    • Joaquin Niemann (Chile) debut

    • Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa) 7-5-3

    • C.T. Pan (Chinese Taipei) debut

    • Adam Scott (Australia) 14-20-5

    • Cameron Smith (Australia) debut


    • Tiger Woods 24-15-1

    • Tony Finau debut

    • Gary Woodland debut

    • Patrick Reed 4-3-2

    • Dustin Johnson 8-4-2

    • Justin Thomas 3-1-1

    • Brooks Koepka 2-2-0

    • Matt Kuchar 6-8-2

    • Xander Schauffele debut

    • Webb Simpson 5-3-2

    • Patrick Cantlay debut

    • Bryson DeChambeau debut


Woods overlooked Ryder and Presidents Cup mainstay Rickie Fowler, who has not played since the Tour Championship.

Former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth was also omitted for the Dec 12-15 tournament at Royal Melbourne after a difficult season.

There may yet be another addition to the team, pending the fitness of world No. 1 Koepka, who aggravated a knee problem when he slipped during the CJ Cup in South Korea three weeks ago.

"I did have coffee with 'Brooksy' this morning," said Woods.

"All I can tell you is he's rehabbing and he's trying to get better, trying to get ready."

Woods has a Presidents Cup record of 24 wins, 15 losses and one halved match. He knows Royal Melbourne well having played there in 1998 and rolling in the winning putt at the same venue in 2011.

He was cautious about how much he would play, however, noting he would only need to meet a two-match minimum according to the competition's rules.

Featuring seven players in the top 10, the US play an International team with none, and so will be heavily favoured to continue a winning record dating back to 2005.

"Yeah, on paper, we certainly have the advantage," said Woods.

"But when you start out on Thursday, it's 0-0. We have to go out and win this Cup."

The 43-year-old also said he will be well rested and is positive there will be no repeat of his poor performance at last year's Ryder Cup.

He massively underperformed in Paris in 2018, losing all four of his matches as the Americans were thrashed 17 1/2 - 10 1/2 by Europe.

He had arrived in France just after winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta, his first victory since undergoing a spinal fusion more than a year earlier.

"Last year was a bit different... hopping on a flight that night (from Atlanta) and going straight to Paris," Woods said. "And also, I think the emotional stress and the emotional release of finally winning an event coming back from my back surgery, that took a toll on me a bit."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2019, with the headline 'Tiger is a President's man'. Print Edition | Subscribe