ORLANDO, FLORIDA | There was never a question that Tiger Woods would captain a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team.
But so soon?
Even Woods admits to being a little surprised that he will captain the Americans when they travel to Australia’s Royal Melbourne in December 2019 for the Presidents Cup. He still will be a few days short of his 44th birthday, young by captain standards. But the time feels right to Woods.
How did it happen?
Woods said the idea emerged from a group text that included him, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, the most recent Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup captains. It was suggested that Woods’ time was approaching and when he thought about it, he liked the idea.
So he called PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
“After a little bit of thought I said, ‘You know what, that sounds like something I really want to do,’ ” Woods said. “I called Jay up said, ‘Hey Jay, might you be interested in me possibly being the captain in 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.”
And it leads to the next obvious question: Has Woods considered being a playing captain?
“Yes, I have,” he said with a smile.
Woods wouldn’t be the first playing captain in the Presidents Cup. Hale Irwin did so in the inaugural event, in 1994.
The 2019 Presidents Cup will match Woods and his team against the International team captained by Ernie Els, who seemed the logical successor to three-time International captain Nick Price.
It already has rekindled memories of the 2003 Presidents Cup matches in South Africa, when Woods and Els squared off in a tense sudden-death playoff to determine the winning team.
When darkness halted the playoff after three holes, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player decided to call the matches a draw.
The next captains will operate under slightly modified rules in 2019, with each player required to play just one match rather than two before the Sunday singles. Also, the top eight players (on each 12-man team) will qualify officially at the end of the Tour Championship with the captains having four at-large picks to add before the December matches.
The United States has won the past seven Presidents Cup matches and 10 of the 12 that have been played.