Tiger Woods, Ernie Els to add new chapter in Presidents Cup as captains

Presidents Cup

Tiger Woods, Ernie Els to add new chapter in Presidents Cup as captains

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods, Ernie Els to add new chapter in Presidents Cup as captains

ORLANDO  — Fifteen years ago Tiger Woods and Ernie Els battled it out in a Presidents Cup playoff beneath the setting sun in South Africa, before the Cup was ultimately shared in the name of sportsmanship. Next year the two golf legends will again match up in the biennial matches between the U.S. and International teams.

Though this time, it will be as captains.

Reports surfaced Monday that Woods and Els will captain the U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams, respectively, for the Dec. 12-15 matches at Royal Melbourne in Australia. On Tuesday at Bay Hill, where both will tee it up this week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the news was confirmed.

“Here I am as the captain of the 2019 Presidents Cup, and it’s so exciting to be a part of it,” Woods said. “I’ve been a part of eight times as a player, one time as a vice captain, and to have played it in Canada, to play it in South Africa, Australia twice, it’s been a lot of fun to be able to move this cup all over the place.”

Said Els: “It’s obviously a great honor. It’s going to be really exciting and I know it’s a long way away, but I’m really looking forward to this. It’s really kind of a dream job so to speak for me.”

While Els receiving the captaincy for the Internationals came as little surprise, Woods being named captain wasn’t expected this soon. Woods, who has twice served as a Cup vice captain (2016 Ryder Cup, 2017 Presidents Cup), said he discussed the idea with past Cup captains, and then ran it by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

“It came about just through a group text with Davis, Freddie (Couples), Jim (Furyk) and Steve and who we thought might be the next captain and they said that you would probably be on the short list,” Woods said. “And I didn’t really think about it in that way. But then after a little bit of thought I said, ‘you know what, that sounds like something I really want to do.’

“I called Jay up said, ‘Hey Jay, might you be interested in me being the captain for the 2019 Presidents Cup team?’ Silence. And then he said, ‘Yeah, I think that might, we might be able to work that out.’ So here I am.”

Of course, Woods made sure he could still play at Royal Melbourne if qualified. If that happens, Woods would be just the second playing captain in the event’s history. Hale Irwin went 2-1 in a 20-12 victory in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994.

“I just wondered if that was an opportunity and (Monahan) said that there’s nothing in the bylaws that say that I can’t do it,” Woods said. “But if it does come to that point, it won’t just be just my decision, it will be a collaborative effort, what is best for the team.”

Els, who holds the course record (60) and has won three times at Royal Melbourne, made one thing clear.

“I won’t be playing,” said Els, who is 3-4 against Woods all-time in the Presidents Cup, though they have played just once in singles.

Back in 2003 at Fancourt, Woods had finished beating Els, 4 and 3, in singles, but the overall competition was tied, 17-17, at the end of regulation. At the time, the tiebreaking procedure was for a sudden-death playoff involving one member from each team, two names that had previously been placed in an envelope.

U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus pulled out Woods’ name. International captain Gary Player matched with Els.

After offsetting pars on the first playoff hole, Els sank a 12-footer for par to extend the match at the second. After Woods holed a 15-footer for par on the third extra hole, Els, in front of the hometown fans, matched from 6 feet.

With daylight fading, Nicklaus and Player, in the spirit of the game, agreed to share the Cup, a move that prompted the removal of such a playoff for future Presidents Cups. Much to the players’ delight, too.

“That was actually one of the most nerve-wracking moments I’ve ever had in golf,” Woods said back then. “… You let everyone down with one putt. That’s a lot of pressure.”

Els, who was relieved at the time to hear that Woods was nervous, echoed Woods’ statements.

“It’s unbelievable pressure,” Els said. “Probably the first I’ve ever felt my legs shaking a little bit.”

On Tuesday, Woods elaborated on that feeling.

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

Same goes for the feeling of being a captain.


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