Els, Woods to skip­per top teams

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

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



Ernie Els will co­cap­tain the Pres­i­dents Cup teams.

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