Tiger hopes to be playing captain at 2019 Presidents Cup
October 17, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Woods, Els to duel as Presidents Cup captains
Tiger Woods has declared his ambition to be a playing captain at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia.
Seven months ago, Woods was named captain of the U.S. Team for the biennial event that will be held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Dec. 12-15, 2019. At that point, Woods was in the early stages of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery.
Since then, he contended in several events before winning his 80th PGA TOUR title at the TOUR Championship.
The Presidents Cup hasn’t seen a playing captain since the inaugural event in 1994 where Hale Irwin juggled both duties on the U.S. Team.
Woods joked at first when asked about the possibility Tuesday during a question-and-answer session at his Tiger Woods Invitational, a charity event held at Pebble Beach. Then he took a more serious tone.
“God I hope so. I just looked at the points last night and I was ninth, so I’d be asking the captain for a pick,” Woods said.
“I really hope to be a playing captain, I really do.”
Woods will be making his captain's debut for the U.S. at Royal Melbourne.
His competitive success this season was unexpected, given that Woods did not know what to expect after undergoing multiple back surgeries in recent years. He had been tabbled for a vice-captain role at the recent Ryder Cup outside Paris, but he played well enough to receive a captain's pick from Jim Furyk and thus transition into a playing role.
Woods' record at Le Golf National was 0-4-0 in the U.S. loss, dropping his career record in that event to 13-21-3. His career Presidents Cup record is much more impressive: 24-15-1.
When Woods was announced on March 13 as the U.S. Presidents Cup captain (along with the announcement of Ernie Els as the International Team captain), he was 44th in the standings for the U.S. Team. The final qualifying event for the U.S. will be the 2019 TOUR Championship, where Woods will be the defending champ. (Click here for latest Presidents Cup standings)
The 2019 Presidents Cup will be the third time the event is heading to the Alistair McKenzie-designed masterpiece, with Woods posting a 2-3 record in each of the previous iterations.
The 1998 event at the venue still remains the lone victory for the International team, while in 2011 the tables were turned, with Woods sinking the clinching point in Sunday singles.
With Woods set to take several experienced assistant captains juggling the role is something that could indeed be done.
He referenced Irwin’s plan from 1994.
“What he did was somewhat interesting,” Woods mused.
“He sat out in the morning and then played in the afternoon so he could control the pairings and do the pairings and submit them and then he’d play in the afternoon. Then he played first match out in singles.”
Woods and Els have already agreed to a small tweak in the format of the competition with players now only needing to play one team session before Sunday singles.
In the 2017 Presidents Cup, the stipulation was two team sessions per player.
This change would allow Woods more flexibility to sit himself out to perform captain duties if he was indeed part of the team.
While he joked about it earlier, Woods is not sure he’d actually pick himself if he was not one of the automatic eight qualifiers in the team.
As captain, he will get four picks but foreshadowed earlier this season he did not want to be part of that discussion with whomever he selects as assistant captains.
“I would like to get to a point where I wouldn’t have to make that decision, to where I’m playing well enough where I could make the team on points,” Woods said in March.
Woods is also cognizant of getting the timing of his picks right as he wants players in form despite the late-year date of the tournament.
“I think (Ernie) wants to do his picks right around the WGC – HSBC Champions next year in China and I need to figure out when I want to do mine to make sure we get the guys committed to playing but also that they know their playing schedule so they can play in the fall to keep sharp because the tournament is not till December,” Woods said.
“I need the guys to still be sharp and playing tournament golf.”