Woods announced the final four players on a squad of 12 that will face the International team in Australia in December.
Tiger Woods named himself to the United States Presidents Cup team on Thursday, a decision as predictable as Christmas carols in radio rotation before Thanksgiving.
Woods, the American team captain, had four discretionary picks to complete his 12-player team. Along with the man in the mirror,Tiger Woods chose Tony Finau, who will make his Presidents Cup debut; Gary Woodland, the reigning United States Open champion, who will also make his first appearance in the event; and Patrick Reed, making his third appearance.
Woods announced his own selection by saying: “As captain, I’m going to choose Tiger Woods as the last player on the team. He’s made nine Cups, and he’s played in Australia twice. This will be his third appearance there. Interesting that I’m talking third person.”
Two years ago, Patrick Cantlay was just starting his comeback from a career-threatening back injury. The PGA TOUR’s first team event in decades was fast approaching.
“I wasn’t sure if anybody would really want to play with me. I hadn’t played very many tournaments in three years,” said Cantlay, who played just six TOUR events from 2014-16.
He decided to phone a friend from his amateur days. Cantlay was a high-schooler when he played a practice round with Patrick Reed at one of the country’s top amateur events, the Western Amateur. Now Cantlay wanted to team with him at TPC Louisiana.
Reed accepted, and the partnership has lasted through all three team editions of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Cantlay and Reed are even the rare team that coordinates outfits.
The partnership could make its way to Australia next month. With Jordan Spieth not on this year’s roster and all 11 players clamoring to team with Tiger Woods, it could make sense for the Patricks to pair at the Presidents Cup 2019.
Cantlay and Reed, two iconoclasts who are known to keep to themselves, are kindred spirits. Reed stays firmly ensconced in the tight circle known as Team Reed, while the quiet Cantlay is an old soul who can speak more easily about classic rock than college football.
“We’ve always enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed each other’s competitiveness,” Reed said. “We are both pretty intense and like team competitions.”
They finished T14 in the 2017 Zurich and improved to T7 the following year. They missed the cut this year.
TPC Louisiana is a much different test than Royal Melbourne, though. The Alister Mackenzie design in Australia promises to play firm and fast. That plays into the hands of Reed and Cantlay.
Cantlay, winner of this year’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, has long expressed his preference for classic venues, especially those with fast, sloping greens that require players to calculate the perfect combination of speed and line.
“I feel like the golf courses, as far as I’m concerned, the rough can’t be long enough, the fairways can’t be narrow enough, the greens can’t be fast enough. I love golf like that,” Cantlay said after his win at Muirfield Village.
“Jason (Day) can clearly hang with Tiger and go down the stretch with him,” Ogilvy, who with Els was a member of the losing International team at Royal Melbourne in 2011, told the Melbourne Herald Sun.
“But Cam and Leish, they have really stood up the last couple of years and they are so bought into this. Cam is bouncing out of his skin. We have 12 great players, they all have a case.
“It depends on the situation of the match. It depends how the picks go too, we alternate, so Tiger could choose who he wants to play against. There’s no real control there.”
Woods will be the first playing captain since American Hale Irwin in the inaugural 1994 Presidents Cup after giving himself a wildcard following his record-equalling 82nd US PGA Tour title in Japan last month.
He spearheads a formidable team that features the three of the world’s top four golfers in number one Brooks Koepka, third-ranked Dustin Johnson and number four Justin Thomas.
Els has a relatively inexperienced team looking to win the event for only the second time in its 25-year history. Their sole win came at the same Royal Melbourne venue in 1998.
“The American team look like a bit of a juggernaut but we’ve got a good young team,” Ogilvy told reporters at the course on Monday.
“This is a tough place for them to play and Ernie is historically great around Royal Melbourne so he’s got a lot of wisdom and the players want to win for him.
“The Americans are in a sweet spot of form but if you watch the Ryder Cup, they are very beatable if you play well. I see no reason why we can’t pump them,” he added.
The Presidents Cup will open with five fourball matches on the Thursday, followed by five foursomes on Friday. There will be four foursomes and four fourballs on Saturday with 12 singles to round out the competition on Sunday.