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Couples picked Tiger too soon, Ogilvy says

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Geoff Ogilvy criticized U.S. captain Fred Couples for giving Tiger Woods a Presidents Cup wild-card pick a month early.

Ogilvy, a member of the International team that will play the United States next month at Royal Melbourne, said in a telephone conference call Thursday he didn’t agree with Couples’ move to publicly assure Woods of a captain’s pick before they had to be made.

“You can’t ever say that picking Tiger Woods is a bad selection, but the way he picked him … ” Ogilvy said. “I don’t agree with the way he picked him, announcing it months early, basically telling the guys who are on the fringe of the U.S. team there’s really only going to be one pick.

Keegan Bradley is the obvious one. He’s won two tournaments this year, one of them being a major, and he hasn’t made the team, which is astonishing really that you can do that in a year and not make the team.

“I’m not going to stand up and say Tiger is a horrible pick, but I’m going to say it’s very disappointing that Keegan Bradley doesn’t get to play. That’s where I’m at with it.”

Couples added Woods and Tour Championship winner Bill Haas to the 10 automatic picks, leaving out PGA Championship winner Bradley.

Bradley, the PGA Grand Slam winner Wednesday in Bermuda, could still end up at Royal Melbourne as an injury replacement for Steve Stricker, fighting a herniated disk in his neck.

Last week, International captain Greg Norman said he wouldn’t have picked Woods and that Bradley would have been a more logical choice.

“I can understand the name of a Tiger Woods and his history of what he’s done on the golf course,” Norman said. “But I pick the guys who I think are ready to get in there and play and have performed to the highest levels leading up to it.”

Couples stood by his selection after winning Champions Tour event in San Antonio, dropping subtle hints that he could also question Norman’s selections.

“I have no problem with Greg. He can say whatever he wants, but I’m not really into that. I play golf with my clubs,” Couples said. “Robert Allenby is his pick, and Aaron Baddeley, and they’re Australians and I think they’re great picks. But I think I can sit here and say Robert Allenby hasn’t won a tournament in 10 years.”

Allenby’s last PGA Tour win was 10 years ago in the Pennsylvania Classic, although he has seven wins since then, including Australian’s Triple Crown – the Masters, PGA and Open – in 2005.

“The truth is, Tiger Woods is the greatest or the second-greatest player to ever play, and he’s going to be down in Australia, and I hope he plays up to his capabilities,” Couples said. “But I think Tiger is used to getting picked on, and it’s irrelevant to me.”

Ogilvy said Royal Melbourne – the scene of the International team’s only Presidents Cup victory in 1998 – would again provide a definite advantage to the home team.

“It’s a pretty big advantage,” he said. “You wouldn’t consider it one of the most difficult golf courses in the world anymore, but it’s definitely a golf course that rewards local knowledge.”