Tiger Woods has selected himself as playing captain for the Presidents Cup in Melbourne next month, confirming he’ll play in Australia for the first time since his 2011 appearance at Royal Melbourne.
The 2019 Masters champion and world No.7, also named Tony Finau, US Open champion Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed as his three other captain’s picks to take on Ernie Els’ International team.
Rickie Fowler was the unlucky omission with the powerful American team featuring seven players from the world’s top 10, with world No.22 Matt Kuchar the lowest-ranked player in the 12-man outfit.
Woods will be the first playing captain at a Presidents Cup since Hale Irwin led the USA to a 20-12 win over the Internationals in the inaugural event in Virginia in 1994.
Woods has ventured back to Melbourne only that once since his personal life fell apart in the wake of his November 2009 visit when he won the Australian Masters by two strokes, but tabloid media exposed details of a female visitor to his Crown Towers room.
In the aftermath, he was divorced from wife Elin Nordegren and underwent numerous back injuries as his golf game fell apart.
Woods said on Friday he only made his mind up about playing in the Presidents Cup after his latest win, having been sidelined since late August after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery to repair minor cartilage damage.
“To me the Zozo Championship was a big event and validated that I could still play,” he said.
It’s going to be difficult playing but I have three great vice-captains.”
The former world No.1 will be making his ninth Presidents Cup appearance.
He has won 24 of his 40 matches since debuting in the USA’s 1998 loss at Royal Melbourne, which remains the International team’s only win in the event.
Els said Woods had “no choice” but to pick himself after his incredible comeback from injury this year.
He landed his 15th major – 11 years after winning his 14th – at Augusta National in April before scoring a wire-to-wire victory at the Zozo Championship two weeks ago in Japan.
“This is our generation’s best player by quite a distance and people want to see him play. He’s done things other people haven’t done on the golf course,” Els said.
Woods is one of only five players to earn a perfect five-from-five record during a single event (in 2009).
His 24 match wins rank second behind Phil Mickelson’s 26 and his six victories in singles are the most.
Under Presidents Cup rules, Woods only needs to play one match in foursomes and fourballs to be eligible for the last-day singles in Melbourne on December 15.