US Presidents Cup team captain, Tiger Woods, made his four at-large selections to fill out his roster on Thursday. Not surprisingly, one of the picks was himself.
Woods was expected — but not certain — to choose himself as one of the four captain picks. He also took Tony Finau, U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, and Patrick Reed to round out the team and compete alongside the other eight players that qualified. International captain Ernie Els selected Jason Day, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im, and Adam Hadwin.
The biennial event, patterned after the Ryder Cup, features non-European golfers against a US team. The competition will be at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia on Dec. 9-15. Before Woods’ announcement, the US team was a -275 favorite. Now they have jumped to -310. The International team is +250 to win.
Presidents Cup Roster
US Team International Team
Captain: Tiger Woods Captain: Ernie Els
Brooks Koepka Marc Leishman
Justin Thomas Hideki Matsuyama
Dustin Johnson Louis Oosthuizen
Patrick Cantlay Adam Scott
Xander Schauffele Abraham Ancer
Webb Simpson Li Haotong
Matt Kuchar Pan Cheng-tsung
Bryson DeChambeau Cameron Smith
Tiger Woods* Jason Day*
Tony Finau* Joaquin Niemann*
Gary Woodland* Sungjae Im*
Patrick Reed* Adam Hadwin*
The decision to name himself one of the four captain’s picks was made a lot easier for Woods for two reasons. The first was he felt like he was fully healthy after off-season knee surgery in August. Secondly, he won the Zozo Championship in October, and is confident he can compete at the high level he is used to.
Woods announced his selections from his restaurant in Florida, and said that both players and his assistant coaches thought he should play.
“The players, they wanted me to play in the event,” Woods said. “It’s going to be difficult, but I also have three amazing assistants in Fred [Couples], Stricks [Steve Stricker] and Zach [Johnson]. So that helps a lot. Two guys who have won Presidents Cups [as captains], and Zach, who will be a future captain. Three great minds to help me when I’m playing.”
Woods Waffled on Competing
Even though Woods thought he could compete, he needed a little prodding from assistant Fred Couples.
“He was pretty adamant,” Woods said of Couples. “He said, ‘Quit being stupid.’ I told him let me rehab this knee, play in Japan and get back to you.”
When he had success with both, he made the decision that he could play in the event. There are challenges though, as both a captain and a player.
“With the new rules, I just have to play one match prior to the singles, two matches minimum,” Woods said. “It could be more. It’s about me understanding the guys, and understanding the golf course as well.”
Koepka Question Mark
Woods has a challenge to face before the event even starts. His No. 1 player, Brooks Koepka, might not be able to play in the tournament. Koepka aggravated his left knee a month ago, and has not played since.
“He’s rehabbing, trying to get better, trying to get ready to play,” Woods said. “Let him focus on that. Put all his energy into that. When he starts playing golf, he’ll let me know, and I told him to keep me abreast of what’s happening.”