Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 10 April 2020

Ernie Els believes Tiger Woods has lost his 'aura' as he ponders who will face the 15-time major winner in Presidents Cup

Woods will both captain and play for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne against Els' International team

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Zozo Championship in Japan in October to match Sam Snead's record of 82 victories. Getty
Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Zozo Championship in Japan in October to match Sam Snead's record of 82 victories. Getty

Ernie Els believes Tiger Woods has lost some of his aura but the captain of the International team will not be under-estimating his superstar counterpart at the Presidents Cup next week.

Woods will both captain and play for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne, with one of Els' main tasks to decide who will face the 15-time major winner on Sunday.

The South African can call on a wealth of experience in compatriot Louis Oosthuizen and Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, while seven of his 12-man squad are rookies.

Els said he would decide who faces Woods after seeing how they perform in the three days of fourballs and foursomes, but suggested it would not be a newcomer.

"I don't want to have a guy feel overwhelmed," he said in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open, where Els will play from Thursday alongside a handful of his Presidents Cup team.

"I will not put a guy in there that's going to feel that way. I'll see who is going to feel like he's really got the best chance against Tiger.

"I don't think today he has the same kind of aura he had in the past. It's different.

"It's more of a celebrity kind of aura. But he's still very competitive. He's won the Masters and he won in Japan [this year].

"When Tiger is healthy, he can play at a very high level. But he's not what he used to be consistently. That's just what age does. But we'll see when we get to Melbourne."

The United States go into the tournament as heavy favourites, boasting some of the world's top-ranked players such as Woods, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.

They have won all but one edition in the event's 25-year history, with Melbourne in 1998 the exception.

Updated: December 4, 2019 10:47 AM

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