THE PRESIDENTS CUP
Notebook: It’s Code Red when Captain Woods is playing
December 10, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- December 10, 2019
All-time shots from the Presidents Cup
MELBOURNE, Australia – Zach Johnson called it, “Code Red.”
It’s an apt description.
When Tiger Woods is playing a match at this week’s Presidents Cup, he certainly can’t focus on his duties as the U.S. Team captain. So that leaves it up to his assistants – Fred Couples, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson – to steer the ship in his absence.
According to Couples, Stricker will gets first dibs on being in charge, although there likely will be a rotation basis at the top.
In fact, Couples was looking directly at Stricker while providing an explanation on the process.
“Basically when Tiger is playing, you'll probably start out as the captain, and then it might move to me or it might move to Zach,” Couples said. “It's pretty easy. … Just to get the radio, you have to dial in it and say, ‘Steve Stricker is the captain’ …
“We’re all captains, and it depends on where we are on the course.”
Couples and Stricker both have experience as Presidents Cup captains. Couples led the U.S. to wins in 2009, 2011 and 2013, while Stricker was the captain when the U.S. routed the Internationals two years ago at Liberty National. Johnson is making his first appearance as a Presidents Cup assistant after four appearances as a player.
One thing that is for sure – when Woods is competing, he won’t be consulted or updated on any developments around the course.
“He’s got to play golf,” said Couples, who said he thinks Woods will play three matches this week.
Australian Presidents Cup rookie Cameron Smith made some strong comments regarding Patrick Reed following last week’s rules development at the Hero World Challenge.
They don’t appear close to burying the hatchet.
“I'm sure he didn't like it,” Smith said. “I think there is a little bit of tension there. I've looked at Patrick a couple times but he hasn't looked back. I'm looking forward to the weekend. … I think our friendship, I guess, is not quite there anymore.”
As for Reed, he said Tuesday he would not treat a potential match with Smith any different than the rest.
“It's an opponent. It's one of their 12 guys,” Reed said. “Go out and play against them. My job is to go out any time my name is called, go out and try to win a point. Doesn't matter who it is I'm playing on that team. I know to try the best I can to win a point for my team and my guys.”
DJ’s fit and ready
Dustin Johnson, making his first competitive appearance since the TOUR Championship, declared himself healthy after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee.
Johnson withdrew from last week’s Hero World Challenge, citing an extra week of rest and therapy would be beneficial for this week’s Presidents Cup.
On Wednesday, he put to rest any health concerns.
“Unless I didn’t feel like I could here and help the tea, then I wouldn’t have come,” Johnson said. “But I feel like I definitely can help the team and the game is in good-enough form to where I feel just fine.”
Assistant Zach Johnson watched Dustin practice on Tuesday. “The last 12 holes, even the guys he was playing with are like, ‘Oh, someone’s back.’ Yeah, it looked good,” said Zach.
Ernie vs. Tiger
Only one captain is playing this week, but certainly Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have had their share of battles through the years.
Most of the time, Woods has come out on top – including two majors when he routed the field while Els finished runner-up.
Els has spoken this week about coming up short against Woods, so an International win this week would be sweet.
“It would be nice,” said International assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy. “He ran into a buzzsaw a lot in the big tournaments,” International assistant captain Geoff Ogilvy said of Els vs. Woods. “He was so far and away the second-best golfer in the world for the best patch of Tiger’s career, but there was still daylight from No. 1.”