Tiger Woods surprised nobody when he pulled his own name out of the Presidents Cup hat and he's confident that his body is up to the task
There was a brief moment of panic when it seemed like he might not do what everyone was waiting for, then the question gave away the answer: “Last and certainly not least, rounding out the team?”
And then came the Hall of Fame gag that he had likely been practising since winning in Japan….
“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!”
A few weeks ago it seemed unlikely that he would be taking his clubs to Royal Melbourne, after the Zozo he catapulted himself to the most essential pick, albeit from himself.
Not that his three assistants needed the nudge from Japan.
“As far as concerning me as a player, Freddie, Zach and Strick – they said, “You’re on the team, you’re playing.
“I said, “Hold on, slow your roll. I’m coming off knee surgery. I don’t know how it’s going to be. Let me have Japan to test it and feel it and figure it out.
“Freddie was pretty ardent, “You’re on the team. Quit being stupid.”
“I said, “No, hold on. I haven’t swung a club yet. Let me rehab this knee and get it going. Give me Japan and I’ll get back to you. Well, I got back to him after Japan.”
And so we have the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in 1994 and, quite possibly. the last. For the sake of the crowds, the PGA Tour and the interest levels in the most lopsided competition in the game it had to happen.
The main concerns are how he will cope with the jet lag, coming straight in from his own event in the Bahamas, and then playing in successive weeks. Other than Japan his last start came in the middle of August when he bowed out of the FedEx Play-offs – remember Paris after the Tour Championship.
“Some of the cons would be how well I travelled overseas. Travelling to Japan and playing in a championship, how it would respond. It responded well and Bahamas was just, I guess, about a 40-minute flight from here, that’s really a nothing trip on the body.
“The long haul to Australia is very much like the one to Japan, and seeing how my body felt and how I reacted in Japan and how I was able to play, it certainly gives me a lot of confidence that it will hold up.
“Last year was a bit different because it was all the Play-off events and then hopping on a flight that night and going straight to Paris. 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. So this is a totally different animal.”
Woods reiterated that he might only have to play one match prior to singles anyway though the chances of that happening are probably similar to those of a home victory.