Captain Woods admits “it’s going to be tough”; the last man into the US Presidents Cup team says he simply can’t do it all on his own.
Overnight in the Bahamas Woods will begin one of the most taxing 12 days of his storied career, first hosting and playing in the Hero World Challenge that benefits the TGR Foundation and then boarding a plane with his Presidents Cup teammates for the 20-hour flight to Melbourne.
Once he arrives Woods must familiarise himself with a Royal Melbourne layout he has not played in eight years while at the same time performing his duties as team captain, making sure the 11 other US representatives are comfortable and confident when the matches start on December 12.
“I’ve been organising these two weeks – working with my staff here, and then working with the tour, and communicating with the guys for next week, making sure everything is in line,” Woods said when asked how he had spent his time since winning the Zozo Championship in Japan.
“It’s long days, long nights. I’m still playing, too, so I gotta practise, I gotta train, lifting. It’s burning the candle on both ends for two weeks in a row. It’s gonna be tough.”
Too tough even for someone as driven as Woods according to Rickie Fowler.
Fowler, who has spent part of his downtime sharpening his game with matches against Woods and fellow Presidents Cup teammates Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Gary Woodland in south Florida, knows just how difficult it will be for Woods to cede any kind of control.
Yet in assistant captains Zach Johnson, Fred Couples and Steve Stricker, the 30-year-old says they have the type of people capable of telling Tiger ‘No’ when needed.
“He’s definitely got a lot on his plate,” Fowler admitted, called into the team two weeks ago after the withdrawal of world No.1 Brooks Koepka through injury.
“It’s going to help that he’s got some great guys around him as assistants that will be able to step into his role at times. I definitely don’t want him as a player to have to try and do both full-time.
“Between Freddie, Strick and Zach, they may have to pull him back a little bit or tell him to just go play golf and let them take care of some stuff. But yeah, Tiger’s definitely someone who likes to be in control of what he can be in control of, and he’s definitely detail-oriented. Loves all the info he can get.
“I’m not sure what those guys will do, if they will kick him out of the room, tell him to go hit balls or whatever it may be.”
While Fowler doesn’t expect to see Woods “bringing any pom-poms out” or be a cheerleading-type captain, Bryson DeChambeau is anticipating Captain Woods instilling a deep sense of competitiveness and passion into his troops before play begins.
“He’s been one of my idols growing up so to be able to play for him as the captain is a life-long goal already checked off the bucket list for me,” DeChambeau said.
“I’d also say, too, that I’m excited to have him as the captain. What he brings to the table, the intensity, the passion, the competitiveness, the drive to do the best he possibly can, you’re going to see that out of him, I’m sure, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch, it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of, and hopefully the speeches he gives before we go out is going to be pretty inspiring.
“I know they will be.”