Rival Presidents Cup Captain Ernie Els says an in-form Tiger Woods has every right to appoint himself as playing captain at next month’s biennial showdown in Melbourne, Australia.
Woods is set to announce his four ‘captain’s picks’ at 7pm (Eastern Time US) on Thursday, 7th November while Els, the International Team captain, is scheduled to announce his four ‘captain’s picks’ later today (Wednesday) at 9pm (Eastern Time US).
Woods is leading a USA Team for a first time in his career and after his recent PGA Tour record-equalling victory at last month’s ZoZo Championship in Japan, many observers, including Els, believe the now 43-year old American will surprise the golf world by choosing himself as a playing captain for Royal Melbourne.
If so, Woods will become the first in the 25-year history of the Presidents Cup to be a playing captain.
Also, it would be a first occasion in major men’s team competition in 56-years since the late, great Arnold Palmer captained the victorious 1963 USA Ryder Cup Team that humbled a then Great Britain and Ireland 23 points to 9 in Atlanta.
The last GB&I Ryder Cup team playing captain was Dai Rees two years earlier in 1961.
Woods has been a member of eight USA Presidents Cup teams with the last being in 2013, however in capturing a 15th Major earlier this year at Augusta National and also pulling off success a fortnight ago in Japan, Els believes Woods has every right to pick himself.
“I hope Tiger goes ahead and decides to play,” said Els.
“It will be good for the event and good for golf everywhere as people want to see Tiger teeing-up.
“He’s a young captain at 43-years, and I think he’s really too young to be a captain of a Presidents Cup Team but then he’s the still the reigning Masters champion and look what he did again in Japan in equalling Sam’s (Snead) record of 82 PGA Tour wins.
“It’s for this reason, I think Tiger should go ahead and pick himself and tee-up at Royal Melbourne as it will be good not only for his American side but for the Presidents Cup and the bigger world golf picture.”
Els, who will be leading a side looking to win the Presidents Cup for just a second occasion since 1998 and also at Royal Melbourne, indicated that he does not expect to ‘surprise’ anyone with his four picks.
“There are two guys I am going to pick who will be pretty obvious and the other two maybe will come as a surprise to some,” he said.
“On paper again, we are not in the same ballpark as the USA side but we will have a team in Melbourne that will be very competitive and more than capable of holding their own against Tiger’s team.”
The Presidents Cup will be contested December 12th to 15th at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.
Here’s a look at the eight automatic qualifiers for both teams:
United States Team
Brooks Koepka (currently injured)