MELBOURNE – First-time US Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods on Wednesday named the experienced Fred Couples, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson as three of his assistants for the showdown against the International team in Melbourne later this year.
The 14-time major champion tapped former captains Couples and Stricker, while injecting new blood to the leadership team in the shape of the former Open Championship and Masters winner Johnson for the December 12-15 event.
“Having competed with Tiger in the Presidents Cup in the past, I’ve always admired the pride he takes in these team events,” said Johnson. “I’m thrilled he’s chosen to trust me with this important role, and I look forward to doing my part to help the team succeed.”
Johnson played in four previous Presidents Cups, including 2015 in South Korea when he delivered a pivotal victory over Australian talisman Jason Day.
He could be a contender for one of Wood’s four captain’s player picks if he does not automatically qualify in the top eight determined by FedEx Cup points.
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club venue is a much-lauded classic Sand Belt course that demands strategic golf but is often considered too short for today’s big hitters, and that could suit the accurate Johnson who is one of the shortest hitters from the tee on the US PGA Tour.
Couples welcomed the chance to go back to the site of his 2011 triumph as captain.
“To return to one of my favourite venues, Royal Melbourne, is going to be a real treat,” said Couples.
“The fans in Australia really know their golf and create an unbelievable atmosphere for the players, so I’m excited to return and help this team win.”
Stricker brings his own pedigree to the team that will face the Internationals led by South Africa’s Ernie Els, and has a bond with Woods having been his teammate at four previous Presidents Cups.
“Stricks was an incredible leader in 2017 and I took a lot away from the way he served as captain that I hope to emulate in Melbourne,” Woods said.
“We have always shared a high level of trust and mutual respect, which will be important in helping us guide this team.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)