After weeks of speculation, Tiger Woods finally made it official.
He’ll be playing with the United States in the Presidents Cup next month.
Woods, the U.S. Team captain, used one of his four captain’s picks on himself while finalizing his 12-man team on Thursday night. He used his three remaining picks on Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Gary Woodland, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last season.
“The players, they wanted me to play in the event,” Woods said, via ESPN. “It's going to be difficult, but I also have three amazing assistants in Fred [Couples], [Steve Stricker] and Zach [Johnson]. So that helps a lot. Two guys who have won Presidents Cups [as captains] and Zach who will be a future captain. Three great minds to help me when I'm playing.
“With the new rules, I just have to play one match prior to the singles. Two matches minimum. It could be more. It's about me understanding the guys, and understanding the golf course as well.”
Woods will be just the second playing captain in the event’s history, following Hale Irwin in 1994. Though the move may seem unusual, it only makes sense given how Woods has played over the past year.
The 43-year-old won the Masters last April, and picked up a historic win at the Zozo Championship in Japan last month — which marked his 82nd career-victory on the PGA Tour, tying Sam Snead’s all-time record. Though he fell into a bit of a slump after his win at Augusta National amid a battle with injuries, Woods has climbed to the No. 7 spot in the World Golf Rankings.
Woods will now be playing in his ninth Presidents Cup, his first since 2013. He holds a 24-15-1 record in the biennial event, and is one of just five players to have ever posted a perfect 5-0 record in a single event. Only Phil Mickelson — who is missing his first Presidents Cup since the event was started in 1994 — holds more wins in the event.
While he dragged the decision out, Woods said Couples pushed him hard to play.
“He was pretty adamant,” Woods said, via ESPN. “He said, ‘Quit being stupid.’”
Woods, Finau, Reed and Woodland will join Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar, all of whom earned automatic bids to the team in August.
The United States will take on the International Team starting on Dec. 12 at Royal Melbourne in Australia. The course played host to the event in 1998, which was the only time in the history of the Presidents Cup that the International Team has knocked off the Americans.
International Team captain Ernie Els finalized his team on Wednesday night, using his Captain’s Picks on Jason Day, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im and Adam Hadwin. His team will be the youngest in Presidents Cup history, with the average age of his players at 29.3.
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