Captain Tiger Woods will turn to his No.1-ranked player Brooks Koepka to bring both fire and ice as Team USA seek to continue their Presidents Cup dominance at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from December 12.
The top-eight qualifiers for both the American and Internationals teams were finalised following the PGA TOUR’s BMW Championship with Justin Thomas moving into the second position with his dominant three-shot win at Medinah Country Club in Chicago.
December’s Presidents Cup will be the first appearance to Australia for both Koepka and Thomas and Woods had no hesitation in nominating the No.1 player in the world as the key figure in his side.
Woods will have the opportunity to select himself as a playing captain when he nominates his four captain’s picks the week of November 5 but has tagged Koepka as the man to lead Team USA’s quest for an eighth straight win.
“What he brings to the team is that toughness that we want, that fire. But he's also that calmness, too, that calming factor,” Woods said of Koepka, who has won three of the past seven major championships and finished runner-up twice.
“It's hard not to say that he's had one of the most incredible major championship runs of all time.
“What he's done the last couple years has been truly remarkable in major championships.”
A member of the USA team that won the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, Koepka said the opportunity to play in Australia for the first time with his American teammates is one he will cherish.
“It's always fun to represent the United States. It's a special honour and something we don't take lightly,” Koepka said.
“At the same time, I've never been to Australia. It's been on my bucket list for a long time to get down there and go play golf and go see Australia.
“So to get down there at the end of the year in December will be a special treat and to do it with guys that I've become really close with over the last couple years, three years.
“To be able to be a part of these teams, it's so much fun. I don't think people realise what goes on behind closed doors. And how much fun it is for us and you build those relationships with these guys, and we're gonna have them rest of our lives.”
Thomas made his first appearance in a professional teams event at Liberty National two years ago and like Koepka is excited to test his game on the Melbourne sandbelt.
“I'm very excited. I've never been to Australia before, so to just go to Australia is exciting in itself,” Thomas said.
“I've had a blast with my two team events, obviously, one a little bit more fun than the other getting it done at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National two years ago.
“Hoping to recreate some of those memories, but to be able to play for Tiger and have a very, very solid deep team again.
“It's something that we're all looking forward to and excited for.”
|1. Brooks Koepka|
|2. Justin Thomas|
|3. Dustin Johnson|
|4. Patrick Cantlay|
|5. Xander Schauffele|
|6. Webb Simpson|
|7. Matt Kuchar|
|8. Bryson DeChambeau|
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