Els, Woods to skipper top teams
TIGER Woods and Ernie Els shifted their decadeslong friendly rivalry onto the international stage as they were officially named captains for the 2019 Presidents Cup on Tuesday.
Woods, who holds the match play competition’s record with 24match wins for the US and Els, who has won an International side best 20 matches, will lead their teams to Australia for the 2019 edition on December 1215 at Royal Melbourne.
The announcement was made in the Latrobe Room at Bay Hill, site of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour.
Els and Woods have frequently shared golf’s main stage.
Fourtimes Major winner Els has been runnerup to Woods seven times in his professional playing career, including twice in Majors – the US and British Open in 2000.
Woods and Els served as captain’s assistants in the 2017 Presidents Cup when the 12man US team won 1911 at Liberty National in New Jersey for their 10th Cup victory – against one loss and one draw in the biennial event.
Els and Woods also shared an iconic moment at the 2003 Presidents Cup when they faced off in a suddendeath playoff to decide the competition.
They battled evenly through three tensionpacked playoff holes before failing light forced officials to declare the event in South Africa a draw.
“Tiger and I have had some great duels in the past and I look forward to the challenge of going against my longtime friend yet again in 2019,” Els said.
Els might even have to stomach Woods once again wielding a golf club in the match play competition.
Woods, who has launched a comeback after his spinal fusion surgery a year ago, finished joint runnerup by one shot last week at the Valspar Championship.
He said on Tuesday, with a smile, that he had thought about a possible playing captaincy. The 42yearold American acknowledged there was a lot of time and a lot of golf to go before the teams are set. “It won’t just be my decision, it will be a collaborative effort, what is best for the team.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said having giants such as Woods and Els captain the Presidents Cup teams could have a huge impact on the event and the game of golf.
“They’re going to bring the world at large to the Presidents Cup,” he said.
“And in doing so they’re likely going to be bringing forward future stars.”
Two format changes were announced. Each player will only be required to play one match prior to the finalround singles instead of two as in past competitions.
Also, the top eight players for the International and US team standings will automatically qualify following completion of the 2019 Tour Championship. Captains will later select four wildcard picks instead of the two they had previously. This will be the third Presidents Cup to be held at Royal Melbourne, designed by Alister MacKenzie, who also designed Augusta National. – Reuters
CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN:
Ernie Els will cocaptain the Presidents Cup teams.