Woods, Els lead way in Pres­i­dents Cup

Waikato Times - - Sport - DOUG FER­GU­SON

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 too soon for him.

That changed a cou­ple of months ago when Woods asked PGA Tour Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han about the US 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 short­list. ‘‘Me.’’

Woods and Els both played eight times in the Pres­i­dents Cup and were in­volved in a tied high-stakes play­off. They were in­tro­duced as cap­tains yes­ter­day. The

2019 event will be played over De­cem­ber

12-15 at Royal Mel­bourne, the lat­est ever in the year.

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.’’

Next year’s matches will present a few changes in qual­i­fy­ing and for­mat.

Both teams will get four cap­tain’s picks in­stead of two, and qual­i­fy­ing will end af­ter the Tour Cham­pi­onship, ex­pected to be held early Septem­ber.

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