ORLANDO, Fla. – The two players with the most history in the Presidents Cup will now assume a new role, with the PGA Tour announcing on Tuesday that Tiger Woods and Ernie Els will captain the U.S. and International teams, respectively, in 2019 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
Both have competed in eight Presidents Cups each and are tied to the event’s most memorable moment when the duo went to playoff at the 2003 matches in South African, which ended in a tie.
Woods, who served as an assistant captain to Steve Stricker at last year’s Presidents Cup, conceded on Tuesday at Bay Hill that he’d hadn’t thought about taking over for Stricker until Davis Love III, Stricker, Jim Furyk and Fred Couples suggested, via a group text message, he would be on the short list to captain the ’19 team.
“I didn't really think about it in that way. But then after a little bit of thought I said, you know what, that sounds like something I really want to do,” Woods said. “I called [Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] and said, ‘Hey Jay, might you be interested in me possibly being the captain of the 2019 Presidents Cup team?’ Silence. Then he said, ‘Yeah, I think we might be able to work that out.’ So here I am.”
Woods, who has 24-15-1 record in the Presidents Cup and will be 43 when the 2019 matches are played, has assumed a leadership role in recent years for the United States, serving as Love’s assistant captain two years ago at the Ryder Cup and again this year in Paris.
Unlike Woods, Els, who also served as an assistant captain last year at Liberty National, was long considered the natural successor to Nick Price, the captain of the last three International Presidents Cup teams.
Els, who is 20-18-2 for the International side, has been outspoken about the need for changes to the event to make it more competitive following seven consecutive losses for the International team, including a 19-11 blowout in 2017. The Tour met him halfway, changing the selection process to now include eight automatic qualifiers after the ’19 Tour Championship and four captain’s picks closer to the matches, which will be played Dec. 12-15.
“It gives me better time from the Tour Championship onwards towards the cup to make those decisions on which players I'm going to pick,” said Els, who will be 50 when the matches are played next year. “And being at Royal Melbourne and the World Cup of Golf being played down there, it could also be very important to see how the guys perform in that event and because a lot of international players will probably play for their countries in the World Cup, so it could be a big week, so there's a lot to think about and look at.”