Pick-up games with potential Presidents Cup teammates in Florida will form part of the criteria for whether Tiger Woods serves as a playing captain at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from December 12.
Woods revealed the top eight qualifiers for the American team following the PGA TOUR’s BMW Championship but the decision on whether he picks himself to play or not won’t be made until a month before the biennial matches.
Acknowledging that a lack of tournament play affected the American team in their sole Presidents Cup defeat at Royal Melbourne in 1998, Woods will urge his top eight and potential captain’s picks to remain active in the PGA TOUR Fall Series.
Woods himself is a confirmed starter at the inaugural Zozo Championship in October, the first PGA TOUR event to be held in Japan, but his playing schedule will otherwise consist of matches complete with trash-talking against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka at the Medalist Club in Florida.
Winner in extraordinary scenes 12 months ago, Woods failed to qualify for this week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and says he will consult with players and vice-captains Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker as to whether he should include himself among his four captain’s choices.
“Obviously I'm playing in Japan, so that's going to help. But I think it has to do with a lot of my competitions I'm going to have down here,” Woods said from his Jupiter Island home.
“I'll be playing with a lot of the guys here. They're going to be getting ready for some of the fall events, we'll have some matches. That's always fun because we're able to talk trash and have a great time and try and get in one another's pockets.
“That will be something that I will definitely rely on, and obviously the event in Japan will be a big deal.”
Disappointed not to be returning to East Lake, the 2019 Masters champion will be the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in the inaugural matches in 1994 should he select himself for his third Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Vice-captain at the 2017 matches at Liberty National Golf Club, Woods will consult with his support network before making the decision but says it will ultimately be his to make.
“That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play,” said Woods, Tony Finau, US Open champion Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed finishing ahead of Team USA’s captain in the final standings.
“I'm going to keep an open line of communication with my players and my vice-captains to find the four guys that they want to go down there with and who best fits the team.
“This is a team, and we want the guys that are going to be a part of it, that are going to be a part of this experience and that they want to go to battle with.
“My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys. That's what I'm trying to do.
“We'll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice-captains.
“Ultimately it's going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.”
Woods also expressed his desire for as many of the American team to play his Hero World Challenge the week prior to the Presidents Cup despite the demanding travel schedule that entails in flying from the Bahamas to Melbourne.
“Would I like for them to play in Albany, in my Hero World Challenge? Yes, I would,” Woods confirmed.
“It's up to them. I'm sure the guys who do play, we'll have some meetings and some good little bonding
time down there, and then we have a pretty long flight ahead of us.
“I'm sure there will be a lot of harassing and needling and joking like there always is on flights, so that will be a fun trip. A long one, but we'll make it fun.”
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