Rickie Fowler could make Tiger Woods' decision tough if there's a Presidents Cup addition

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Rickie Fowler could make Tiger Woods' decision tough if there's a Presidents Cup addition

2019 Presidents Cup

Rickie Fowler could make Tiger Woods' decision tough if there's a Presidents Cup addition

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U.S. Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods took care of one difficult task earlier this week when he named his four discretionary picks to fill out his squad.

He might have to make one more selection.

With world No. 1 Brooks Koepka’s participation in question – he aggravated a left knee injury recently at the CJ Cup in Korea and withdrew from the WGC-HSBC Champions in China – Woods would be presented with another captain’s pick if Koepka’s a no go.

Adding another player to the four he’s already chosen – Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and the reigning Masters champion and recent victor in the Zozo Championship, one Tiger Woods – will be just as difficult. Especially with Rickie Fowler having pulled out of the upcoming Mayakoba Golf Classic, which was announced Saturday by the tournament.

In a text message to Golfweek, Fowler said at the tail end of his honeymoon – he got married the first week of October – he came down with Campylobacter jejuni, which is among the most common bacterial infections and leads to cramps, fever, pain and diarrhea.

Fowler said he started feeling the effects of the intestinal bacterial infection Oct. 26 and didn’t started getting back to normal until Nov. 7.

“It was not a fun stretch,” Fowler wrote. He added he is taking medicine to combat the last stages of the infection and just didn’t have enough time to properly prepare for the Mayakoba Golf Classic, where he’s finished second and in a tie for 16th the past two years.

Now, Woods, if needing to make a fifth pick, will be forced to ponder if Fowler will have enough time to get ready for the Presidents Cup. Fowler has not played since The Tour Championship in August. He had long planned to get married, go on the honeymoon and play Mayakoba. Now he’s scheduled to play once before the Presidents Cup – the Hero World Challenge Woods hosts in the Bahamas. The Hero is the week before the Presidents Cup in Australia.

Fowler, however, did say there’s a slight chance he would play in the RSM Classic, the final PGA Tour event of 2019, in two weeks.

Woods made five tough calls to players informing them they had not made the team. He said the toughest was to Fowler, 30, who is ranked No. 21 in the world and finished 11th in the points race to be one of the eight automatic qualifiers for the team. The five-time PGA Tour winner has played on every U.S. team since the 2014 Ryder Cup; he also played in the 2010 Ryder Cup.

“Rickie’s a good friend of mine and I’ve known him for a long time,” Woods said Thursday. “Kept it short and quick. No reason to make it a lengthy conversation. He’s obviously going to be very disappointed by it.”

In addition to Fowler, Woods likely will consider Kevin Kisner, the reigning WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play champion; Kevin Na, who has won three of his last 33 PGA Tour starts; Jordan Spieth, a stalwart of U.S. teams in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup; and even Phil Mickelson, who has played in every Presidents Cup.

Technically, Woods can choose his replacement Dec. 11, the day before the matches begin at Royal Melbourne. But Woods said he’d make his decision before that. And this all could be moot if Koepka is a go.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we cross it,” Woods said. “All I can tell you is he’s rehabbing and he’s trying to get better, trying to get ready and we’ll let him focus on that. Just let him do that and put energy into that, and when you start playing golf, let me know. But your rehab comes first before golf, and just keep me abreast of what the process is.”

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