Woods, Els named cap­tains of Pres­i­dents Cup in Aus­tralia

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON The AP Golf Writer

OR­LANDO, Fla. — Ernie Els was al­ways the log­i­cal choice to be the In­ter­na­tional team’s next cap­tain in the Pres­i­dents Cup.

Tiger Woods at first thought it might be soon for him.

That changed a cou­ple of months ago when Woods asked PGA Tour Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han about the U.S. cap­tain for next year’s matches in Aus­tralia, and the usual sus­pects were men­tioned. Mon­a­han asked if any­one had been left out, and Woods added an­other name to the short list. “Me.”

Woods and Els, who both played eight times in the Pres­i­dents Cup and were in­volved in a high­stakes play­off that ended in a tie, were in­tro­duced as cap­tains on Tues­day. The 2019 matches will be Dec. 12-15 at Royal Mel­bourne, the lat­est the event has been held.

Woods was an as­sis­tant cap­tain when the Amer­i­can won for the sev­enth straight time, 19-11, last year at Lib­erty Na­tional. In early dis­cus­sions about the next one, Woods said he was more com­fort­able serv­ing as an as­sis­tant.

“But then af­ter a lit­tle bit of thought I said, ‘You know what? That sounds like some­thing I re­ally want to do,’” Woods said. “I called Jay up and said, ‘Might you be in­ter­ested in me pos­si­bly be­ing the cap­tain in 2019?’ Si­lence. And he said, ‘Yeah, we might be able to work that out.’ So here I am.”

Still to be de­ter­mined is whether Woods plays.

Com­ing off his fourth back surgery, Woods took a big step in his come­back last week when he fin­ished one shot be­hind at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship.

“I would like to get to a point where I would have to make that de­ci­sion, get to where I’m play­ing well enough where I could make the team on points,” Woods said. “But I wouldn’t want to have the con­ver­sa­tion and go, ‘Self.’ And so let’s just see how it pro­gresses.”

Hale Ir­win was the only player-cap­tain in the Pres­i­dents Cup in 1994, the first event, and he had Paul Azinger han­dle the cap­taincy when Ir­win was play­ing.

Woods and Els are for­ever linked in the Pres­i­dents Cup. The matches ended 17-all in 2003 in South Africa, and the rules then re­quired cap­tains Jack Nick­laus and Gary Player to put one name in an en­ve­lope for a sud­den-death play­off in case of a tie.

Both made par on the 18th hole in the play­off. Els had to make a 12-footer to stay alive on the sec­ond hole. As dark­ness fell, Woods had to make a dou­ble-break­ing putt from 15 feet for par. Els fol­lowed with a 6-foot par putt. Nick­laus and Player agreed the cup should end in a tie.

“We couldn’t be­lieve the amount of pres­sure we felt, and we both had won ma­jor cham­pi­onships,” Woods said. “But noth­ing felt like that.”

The In­ter­na­tional team has won only one time, in 1998 at Royal Mel­bourne, when the matches were played Dec. 10-13. The Amer­i­can team had most of their fun in the casi­nos or Christ­mas shop­ping on­line.


In this Feb. 16, file photo, Tiger Woods talks to re­porters fol­low­ing his sec­ond round of the Ge­n­e­sis Open golf tour­na­ment at Riviera Coun­try Club in the Pa­cific Pal­isades area of Los An­ge­les.

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