by Jeff Skinner
President Cup Captain Fred Couples may have painted himself into a bit of a corner concerning Tiger Woods. Earlier in the year Capt. Couples had all but handed Woods a slot on the team with one of the two Captains Picks that he is allocated. Yesterday Couples may have slightly backed off of that saying that Woods needs to plays little more if Couples is to put him on his team.
“It’s wrong to leave him off the team, but a lot of people would think it’s wrong to put him on the team,” Couples said. “Right now I believe in the guy. I’m not slighting anyone by having to choose him.”
“For me to pick him to play on our team he has to play a little more golf,” he said. “We have to wait to see when that will be.”
“He can’t just show up the week before in Australia, I have made it clear that whoever I picked will be playing the Australian tournament the week before. But I need him to play more than just there. There’s quite a few tournaments after the Tour Championship.”
“I’m the captain, and he wants to be on the team,” Couples said. “This is my chance to hold my rank above him one time. And I’m going to do it. Look, he has carried this tour for a long time. If somebody looks at it wrong, if I end up picking him — which I probably will — they would be crazy. He doesn’t want to go there and lose. He hates to lose. So he’s going to do his best”
“But I’ve got to push him to play a little bit so he’ll do a little bit better.”
Tiger has committed to the Australian Masters but Couples will be using that as a tune up for the Presidents Cup Team as the teams will be selected on September 26th. The last tournament to earn points is the BMW Championship. Woods isn’t eligible for the playoffs so the only PGA Tour tournaments he can play in are the Fall Series events and Woods rarely plays in any of those.
Since Tiger can’t earn a slot on the team Couples is hoping that Woods will accommodate him by playing, and playing well so Couples can justify his selection of Woods. But what will it take for Couples not to select Woods? If he plays here or in Europe and misses the cut would that be enough for Freddy to ignore him? What if he goes out and stinks up the place ala The PGA? Would that make Couples rethink his criteria?
I can understand if Couples feels pressure from The PGA Tour to make sure the biggest draw in golf is on the team. The Presidents Cup’s popularity pales when compared to the Ryder Cup but this is the PGA Tour’s baby and Fred was selected by them to headline their show. Fred obviously likes this captaincy so he may be feeling the pressure. Unfortunately, the pressure to put on the “best show” versus choosing the team that gives you the best chance to win may win out here.
Like Couples has said Tiger has been the best player on tour for a decade, but that decade ended about two years ago. Woods presently sits at 28th in the Presidents Cup point’s race and is bound to fall further with the rest of the tour still playing and earning points. There are dozens of golfers that deserve a slot on the team ahead of Woods. I wonder if the players that are in contention for the team feel as strongly as Couples does about giving Woods a berth based on his resume and not on results.
Whatever happens with Woods over the next month is anyone’s guess. Tiger never plays when he doesn’t want to. He is even less likely to play when pressured, even if it’s by his buddy Freddy.
Couples may need to twist his pal’s arm a bit if he expects to be taken off the hook here. But I truly believe that Couples has made his choice already and that Tiger will be on the team. He may not deserve to be selected but that’s what a captain’s pick is for: to give the captain some power in picking a player that he feels will help the team. Couples vision on this may be clouded by Tiger’s past and his friendship with him. Regardless of Woods actions from here on out, he does not warrant a selection on this team. Couples will select Woods and he’ll leave another talented golfer that is playing well off the team. It looks like the public aren’t the only ones still caught in the Tiger Woods phenomenon.