U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Tiger Woods names himself as one of four wildcard picks
Tiger Woods will become the second playing captain in Presidents Cup history at Royal Melbourne next month after choosing himself as one of four wildcard picks for the United States team.
Woods, who claimed last month's ZOZO Championship, also named Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed as his three remaining wildcards choices, leaving some notable names at home.
"It was a difficult process," said Woods. "You know, the guys were playing here in the United States, they had Asian events to play and I wanted to see some form. It's so far away till we play, but having guys play a little bit, and hopefully play well and distinguish themselves, I'm being one of them.
As for choosing himself, Woods said that the fact he was able to travel to Japan and win his first tournament since undergoing a fifth knee surgery gave him confidence in his ability to travel and play in Australia.
"I didn't make THE TOUR Championship, so for me, the ZoZo Championship was a big event, and it validated that I could go play and I thought I could help the team, and the guys did play well. Woods did play well, he was in the final group with me -- and guys that have been playing, it's been good to see."
But as much as there has been talk surrounding the picks, a lot of the noise has been made about experienced players like Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, none of who will be part of the team in Australia. For Woods, leaving Fowler out of the team was the toughest decision to make.
"I think the toughest call to make was the closest to making the team is Rickie," said Woods. "That was a tough phone call. Rickie's a good friend of mine and I've known him for a long time. Kept it short and quick. No reason to make it a lengthy conversation. He's obviously going to be very disappointed by it. I've been on that side. I've been there when the captain didn't choose me, and I get it. It's not easy.
"But Rickie is a hell of a player and he's going to start winning tournaments here. He's fresh off of his new wedding his bride and honeymoon and he'll be focused and he'll start winning tournaments."
Finau, Reed, Woodland and Woods will join the eight-man team of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar.
Read on below to find out a big more about the picks.
Woods named Finau as his first pick, who will be making his Presidents Cup debut following his first Ryder Cup start last year. He is currently ranked 14th in the World, and Woods said one of the big reasons for making this choice was that he is well liked and could potential be put in any pairing.
"My first pick will be Tony Finau," said Woods. "He is ranked 14th in the world right now. This will be his first Presidents Cup. He played in The Ryder Cup last year. So he's been around it, he's understood it, and what a great team guy and a pleasure and just an overall genuinely nice guy. Everyone on this team wants to play with Tony. He can play either format, which is great, so we look forward to having him part of this team."
With Ryder Cup controversy clearly behind him, Patrick 'Captain America' Reed was chosen as the second USA wildcard pick by Woods. It was a predicted choice given his recent form, which includes victory at The Northern Trust and just one result outside of the top 30 in his last 13 starts on Tour.
"No. 2 will be Patrick Reed. Patrick will be making his third Presidents Cup appearance, and he has an amazingly solid record in The Presidents Cup. He's played in The Ryder Cup, as well.
"So this is a person that is as fiery as they come and he's bleeding red, white, and blue and he will do anything to get points for you, and that's what we want. We want points, and he's a great team guy in there because he knows that when he goes out on that golf course, he's going to give you absolutely everything he has, and that's admirable, and the guys are looking forward to embracing him and having him be a part of this team
US Open Champion Gary Woodland was selected as the third pick, and will be making his first ever team event debut next month.
"No. 3 is Gary Woodland," said Woods. "This will be Gary's first team event. And what he displayed this year at Pebble Beach in winning the U.S. Open, that was awfully special, and we've all known the talent that he has had, and he's just now figuring it out and putting it together, and we couldn't be -- he couldn't have a better, more competitive guy."
Given his recent record-tying ZOZO Championship victory, Woods' choice to pick himself as the fourth wildcard was expected. Less expected, was his third-person description of why he - and his assistant Captains - chose him to be part of the team.
"As captain, I'm going to choose Tiger Woods as the last player on the team. He's made, what, nine Cups and he's played in Australia twice in The Presidents Cup, so this will be his third appearance as a player, and I find it interesting talking in the third person."
For Woods, the biggest challenge will be managing his role as both Captain and player, and he said he may only play once before Sunday's singles matches.
"It's going to be difficult, but also I have three amazing assistants with Fred, Strick and Zach, and that helps a lot, two guys that have won Presidents Cups and one will be a future captain along the line in the near future. Three great minds that will help 'me when I'm playing.
"Right now with the format change, I just have to play the one match prior to singles, so a two-match minimum for every player in The Presidents Cup, and if I happen to play more, I have to play more.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but something I've been looking forward to for a long time. I've been vice captain in two Cups, so understanding it and seeing it, what those roles are is a little bizarre, and seeing it from a different side is really going to help."