Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Tiger Woods picks himself for Presidents Cup

American becomes first captain to use wild-card selection on himself

Tiger Woods has become the first Presidents Cup captain to use a wild-card selection on himself.

He will also become only the second playing captain in the competition, after Hale Irwin did so in the inaugural matches 25 years ago.

Since returning in early 2018 from a fourth surgery on his back, Woods has won three tournaments, including his 15th major when he won the Masters in April.

"It's going to be a lot of work, but [it is] something I've been looking forward to for a long time," Woods said.

In October, Woods equalled the PGA Tour record with his 82nd career victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan.

He said the trip to Japan – the travel as well as winning – convinced him he was fully healed from knee surgery he had in August and capable of playing in the Presidents Cup, which will be held from December 12-15 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

Woods also selected Tony Finau, US Open champion Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed.

The rest of the US team is Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson.

That leaves room for one more player, which could be current world No 1 Brooks Koepka, who had stem cell treatment in his left knee after the Tour Championship.

In announcing himself as his fourth and final pick, Woods said: "As captain, I'm going to choose Tiger Woods as the last player on the team.

"He's made ... 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."

Woods insisted he will be well rested for the tournament and is confident there will be no repeat of his poor performance at last year's Ryder Cup.

Woods massively underperformed in Paris in 2018, losing all four of his matches as the Americans were thrashed 17½ – 10½ by Europe.

The 15-times major champion had arrived in France just after winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta, his first victory since undergoing a spinal fusion more than a year earlier.

"Last year was a bit different ... hopping on a flight that night [from Atlanta] and going straight to Paris," he said.

"And also, I think the emotional stress and the emotional release of finally winning an event coming back from my back surgery, that took a toll on me a bit."

Prior to the Presidents Cup, Woods will host his own event, the Hero World Challenge, in the Bahamas, with a 16-hour time difference.

The World Challenge finishes on a Saturday, giving the 11 members of the US team slated to compete in the Bahamas a chance to arrive in Melbourne on Monday, three days ahead of the first Presidents Cup matches against the International side.

Woods says his commitments at the World Challenge should not be too taxing. "I do have some duties there at night, but overall, it's a very easy week. And then our flight down to Oz will be easy, just long," he said.

Woods will lead a team that on paper is massively stronger than the Internationals, though the Ernie Els-led squad is far more competitive outside the US, losing by just one point in South Korea four years ago.

The South African's team consists of Marc Leishman, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, CT Pan,Haotong Li, Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im, Adam Hadwin, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen and Cam Smith.

"On paper, we certainly have the advantage in the world rankings," Woods said. "Our players have earned that by playing well around the world and playing well in big events."

Updated: November 8, 2019 10:59 AM

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