Tiger Woods and Ernie Els Named Presidents Cup Captains
The Presidents Cup - which has been dominated by the United States since its inception - has been lacking a certain level of buzz and hype, but that was certainly turned on its head by the announcement that Tiger Woods and Ernie Els would Captain the two sides for next year's meeting at the legendary Royal Melbourne in Australia.
When it comes to American and 'International' golfers, Tiger and Ernie are the dominant forces of their generation. Woods a 14-time major champion, and Els a twice winner of both the U.S. Open and Open Championship. This is the injection of star power that will generate a higher level of interest when the event returns to Victoria in 2019, as the Americans look to continue their supremacy over the Internationals.
Woods and Els have represented their teams eight times in competition, and both served as assistants for their respective captains - Steve Stricker and Nick Price - last year in New Jersey. Many will recall the battle between the two at the climax of the 2003 Presidents Cup in Australia, when the two could not be separated after playoff holes in the increasing darkness. That resulted in a tied match. These two bring a formidable history as individuals, but also within the story of this event.
“This is a huge honour for me,” Woods said following the unveiling that was made ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “This is something I've always wanted to do, I've always wanted to be a captain, and I'm very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.”
“The Presidents Cup has provided me with many of the best memories of my career,” Els added. “To be named captain of the team is an incredible honour.”
However, considering the early success of his comeback to golf, it raises the possibility of Tiger being a playing-captain. Returning from back surgery and finishing runner-up to Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship, Woods - who was a vice captain to Davis Love III at the 2016 Ryder Cup - has incredibly been restored as one of the favourites at the Masters. There's a long road ahead but should the 42-year-old continue to progress as he has, then he would feature highly among the points standings when the Presidents Cup rolls around next December.
“I would like to get to a point where I wouldn’t have to make that decision, to where I’m playing well enough where I could make the team on points,” Woods added.
Such an event wouldn't be unprecedented. Hale Irwin was a playing captain during the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, while Arnold Palmer is the most recent golfer to have served both roles in the Ryder Cup. However, in the modern age, combining the two positions would be a striking move should it arise.
Regardless, for an event that unquestionably lacks a bit of allure, having Woods and Els as captains adds an immediate touch of box office potential. Maybe the Presidents Cup will feel more than just an exhibition next year.
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