Captain Tiger Woods – surprise! – selects himself to join Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Gary Woodland in rounding out U.S. team for next month’s matches in Australia
Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude are co-hosts of a weekly podcast, Hawk & Rude, in which they discuss and debate the hottest issues in golf. They also share their takes in this weekly installment.
How did Tiger Woods fare with his Presidents Cup captain’s picks in his first term as a U.S. skipper?
Hawk’s take: Decades have passed since the Yanks last had a pilot as familiar with his personnel as is Woods, Not only is he still active, but he played his way onto the team, and in choosing himself with one of his four at-large selections, Rickie Fowler became the odd man out. It’s hard to quarrel with that decision. Fowler and Patrick Reed were the two guys on the bubble – neither did anything for lengthy stretches in 2019 – but Reed’s wealth of match-play success earned him the final spot on the roster.
If Woods had been a captain 10 or 15 years ago, he probably wouldn’t have even considered Fat Cat Pat, who basically dissed Tiger after their partnership failed miserably at last year’s Ryder Cup. Reed isn’t the most popular dude in any team room, even when it’s empty, but the U.S. has lots of nice guys with lousy Ryder Cup records. Reed was the right call. He wins big tournaments; Fowler doesn’t win much of anything.
Gary Woodland and Tony Finau were no-brainers. Both hit it a mile and are coming off excellent seasons. And in figuring that Woods might captain three or four Ryder Cup teams and an equal number of Prez Cup squads over the next 20 years, he’ll never have a shorter and more obvious list of wild-card candidates than in 2019. If you didn’t make this traveling party, you didn’t deserve an invitation.
Rude’s take: He nailed it. Then again, he could have used the Hat Method, picking from six or seven names in the fedora, and been just fine.
When your team already is way more stacked than the Internationals and you lead the series, 10-1-1, you can’t go wrong in picking:
• A 15-time major champion fresh off victory and healthy again (Woods himself).
• The reigning U.S. Open champion with two recent top-5 finishes in Asia (Gary Woodland).
• The world’s 14th-ranked player with four recent top 10s on Tour (Tony Finau).
• A fiery bulldog with a great match-play record outside of France (Patrick Reed).
The selection of Reed over the likes of Rickie Fowler might surprise some, given Reed’s play and complaining behavior at last year’s Ryder Cup. But this is about current form and match play, not popularity.
Reed has finished inside the top 25 in all but one of his past 13 tournaments. Fowler, on the other hand, has fallen from seventh to 21st in the world since March and, understandably, has focused recently on a new marriage rather than golf (three starts since mid-July and none since late August).