By JOEL BEALL
Tiger Woods has repeatedly stated his intentions of serving as a playing-captain for this year’s US Presidents Cup team. If Woods accepts dual responsibilities, the positions of his assistants take on a greater light, as they would be tasked for lessening the load that comes with Tiger’s leadership role.
Judging by the men who will be at his side in Melbourne, those assistants are more than capable of the endeavour ahead.
Overnight Woods and the Presidents Cup officially announced three vice-captains for Team America: Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker.
Both Couples and Stricker have previously manned Presidents Cup teams. Couples led the US to three wins in 2009, 2011 and 2013, while Stricker guided the red, white and blue to victory in 2017. If Woods does make the team as a player, these two will be leaned on heavily to manage matters while Woods is on the course.
“I didn’t just want to have the next in the pipeline, but to have ‘Stricks’ and Freddy as vice captains just in case things get a little more complicated if I make the team,” Woods told Australian Golf Digest’s Evin Priest at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
As for Johnson, many envision the two-time Major champ eventually leading a Ryder or Presidents Cup team of his own. Johnson has made nine appearances as a player for the United States, and served as an assistant captain at last year’s Ryder Cup.
“His competitiveness and strategy is amazing; he won the Masters laying up on all 16 of the par 5s and played them in 12-under,” Woods told Priest about Johnson. “But then he also won at St Andrews; one of the longer golf courses there is.”
Woods has the option of adding another vice captain to his roster, although he’ll likely wait until the competition is closer to fill that slot. Tiger has made eight Presidents Cup appearances in his career, second only behind Phil Mickelson.
The 2019 Presidents Cup begins on December 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the only International win in the event’s 25-year history.