What do Tiger’s Chicago ties mean for 2026 Presidents Cup?A look at what Medinah means for the U.S. and International sides
December 11, 2020
By Sean Martin and Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- December 11, 2020
Tiger Woods highlights from 2019 Presidents Cup
In light of today’s announcement that the Presidents Cup is headed to Medinah Country Club in 2026, we decided to convene writers from both sides of the aisle to analyze the move and what it means for both teams.
Below are Sean Martin’s look at the U.S. Team and a potential Tiger Woods captaincy and Ben Everill’s take on how Geoff Ogilvy’s involvement could help the International Team.
Augusta National. St. Andrews. Medinah.
What do these courses have in common? They’re the three venues where Tiger Woods has won multiple majors.
Now the 2026 Presidents Cup is headed to Medinah. A Woods captaincy was the first thing that sprung to my mind after today’s announcement. There are a lot of factors that go into determining the Presidents Cup captain, and it’s a role that comes with a lot of responsibility, but it just seems like a perfect fit.
The 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah was Woods’ second major victory. It came after a memorable duel with a teen-aged Sergio Garcia. Woods blew away the field when the event returned seven years later, winning by five strokes. That victory was one of seven consecutive starts Woods won, the longest winning streak of his career and second-longest in TOUR history.
Woods will be 50 when the Presidents Cup is played at Medinah. Medinah could potentially be the first time Woods leads a team on U.S. soil and holds solely the captain’s role.
He performed masterfully as the playing captain last year at Royal Melbourne, leading the United States to victory while arguably being the best player on the course. But even he will admit that, just weeks from turning 45, the end of his playing days is only drawing nearer. Phil Mickelson’s incredible streak of playing in every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup since 1994 finally came to an end last year at age 49.
Woods has shown a passion for a coaching role, starting with his willingness to fulfill even the most menial tasks as a captain’s assistant. During his most dominant days, the thought of Woods fetching sandwiches for another PGA TOUR player was unfathomable. But he loves the camaraderie and competition of team events, even when he isn’t able to play.
The U.S. captain for the next two Presidents Cups – at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club in 2022 and Canada’s Royal Montreal two years later – is still to be determined. Woods is obviously the top choice every year, but leading four consecutive teams seems unlikely for a player who’s still balancing a playing career with parenting and other professional ventures. There’s also the inevitable Ryder Cup captaincy to balance.
If Woods returns to the captaincy in two years, it would give him a chance to exact revenge on International Captain Trevor Immelman. Woods was runner-up in Immelman’s two PGA TOUR wins (2006 Western Open, 2008 Presidents Cup). Woods is a past champion at Quail Hollow, as well.
A certain Canadian lefty who thrilled the home crowd by beating Woods in a singles match at Royal Montreal in 2007 seems a good bet to lead the Internationals there in 2024.
But of all the upcoming venues, Medinah makes the most sense. It doesn’t seem unfathomable that Woods would relinquish the role for the next two Cups, only to return to the helm in 2026.
He wouldn’t be the first legend to captain multiple Presidents Cup teams. Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Nick Price and Fred Couples all did it.
The 2026 Presidents Cup falls on the 20th anniversary of his second win at Medinah. The upcoming renovation by Geoff Ogilvy (see below) will lessen Woods’ local knowledge but Woods also excels on the type of courses that Ogilvy loves to emulate, ones with wide fairways that emphasize proper angles and use short grass to befuddle players. Think Augusta National, where Woods has won five times, or Royal Melbourne, which was a canvas for Woods to display his artistry last year.
Woods doesn’t have to be in charge to be an invaluable asset at Medinah, however. He can still share his experience as a captain’s assistant. No matter the role, having Woods on site is always a boost for the event and the U.S. Team.
Outside of Los Angeles, where Woods made his PGA TOUR debut and hosts the Genesis Invitational, there may not be another metropolis to which he has stronger ties than Chicago.
It started with the 1994 Western Amateur, Woods’ biggest amateur win until he claimed his first U.S. Amateur weeks later. Woods won the BMW Championship and its predecessor, the Western Open, five times. He has had a longtime friendship with Michael Jordan. And Woods’ TGR Design is working on a transformational project at Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Shore, just 35 miles from Medinah. Jackson Park also is the scheduled site of the Barack Obama Presidential Center. It was President Obama who called Woods and asked him to take on the Jackson Park golf project.
“If we can pull this off, I think it can benefit so many people,” Woods said. “Hopefully we can do it."
Woods as a Captain in Chicago? It seems like a perfect fit.
And, before we go, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Woods’ buddy, Justin Thomas, must be licking his chops. Thomas dominated the last tournament to be held at Medinah, the 2019 BMW Championship. He tied the course record with a 61 in the third round and took a six-shot lead into the final round before winning by three strokes over another player who could be on that 2026 U.S. team, Patrick Cantlay. Thomas would still be just 33 years old when the Presidents Cup comes to Medinah, while Cantlay would be 34. Dustin Johnson, the reigning Masters and FedExCup champion, would be 42.
And Charlie Woods would be 17. Just saying.
International Team fans rejoice. This is great news. Well, as good as it can be for a visiting team.
Medinah Country Club in Chicago will host the 2026 Presidents Cup, a place where demons haunt the U.S. Team after their collapse in the 2012 Ryder Cup, but even more importantly a place that is scheduled to undergo a renovation by none other than former U.S. Open winner and International captain’s assistant Geoff Ogilvy.
And, of course, there’s the chance that the man behind the changes to Medinah could also captain the International side in 2026, giving his team invaluable insight. Ogilvy seems certain to captain the International side one day, so why not in 2026?
When Ernie Els took over the captaincy for the Internationals in 2019, one of the many awesome implementations he oversaw was creating a one-and-done captain model that will help move assistants through the process and into the big job.
Nothing formal has been announced but Els’ assistants in Melbourne were Immelman, Mike Weir and Ogilvy. Immelman will captain at Quail Hollow in 2022. With 2024 set to be contested at Royal Montreal in Canada, Weir seems an obvious choice to lead there. So it doesn’t take much to speculate Ogilvy can take charge at Medinah.
Ogilvy, with his OCM (Ogilvy, Cocking and Mead) firm, are set to reimagine Medinah’s famed No. 3 course and create a test that can once again challenge the best in the world. They’ll use the past to do so as the firm uses the “Golden Age” designers as inspiration.
“We want more questions asked of the golfer during the course of the round,” Mike Cocking recently told the design-focused podcast, The Fried Egg. “Sometimes these questions will be obvious, but at other times they will be confusing, with a lot of different clubs and options in the player’s hands.”
So while the U.S. fans might point to the 2019 BMW Championship, which Thomas won at 25 under, the fact is it will not be as easy a test come 2026. It will require strategy and thinking. The lush, tree-lined course doesn’t look much like places Ogilvy grew up around in Australia, but the new course should share some characteristics with places like Royal Melbourne after the redesign.
“The best way to achieve (our goals) is with a combination of width, short grass, interesting bunker positions, and of course brilliant green complexes that tilt or slope in a way that reinforces the strategy back down the fairway,” Cocking told The Fried Egg.
No one will know more about the new course than Ogilvy and if he’s in the ear of the International players, it’s an advantage they’ll take with open arms as they continue to try to turn around U.S. dominance that has spawned a 11-1-1 record.
And then, just to add a little spice, there are those aforementioned Medinah demons for the U.S. It’s unlikely anyone who played for the U.S. team that coughed up a 10-6 lead in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah will play in 2026, but the ghosts still remain.
The narrative will follow them. It will be a focus for media in the days and weeks leading into the tournament. The U.S. will try to spin it into a chance for redemption. For revenge. They’ll say it’s motivation. Or perhaps they’ll just say it’s irrelevant. Old news. Different players from a different time. But in the back of their minds it will still be there. That potential sliver of doubt.
And maybe that’s all it will take for the International team to get one over their long-dominant rivals.