Ernie Els already had a tall task ahead of him when he drew Tiger Woods as his opposing captain for the 2019 Presidents Cup. But that was before Woods reasserted himself as a force on the course, and now Els expects his counterpart to wear multiple hats next year in Australia.
Speaking to reporters at the World Cup of Golf, Els explained that he fully expects Woods to take on the dual role of playing captain when the two teams meet next December.
"I think so. I think the way he's playing, the way he ended last year, what, he's up to 13th in the world?" Els said. "I'm not sure what kind of point system they use for their selection, but the way he's going, it looks like he's going to be in contention a lot this year."
Woods started the year ranked 656th in the world, but his resurgent season included a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship and a win at the season-ending Tour Championship that ended a five-year drought. Woods is currently 16th in the U.S. points standings despite not having played since East Lake.
Should Woods serve as both player and captain, it wouldn't be an unprecedented double-dip. Hale Irwin filled both roles in 1994 during the inaugural Presidents Cup, captaining the victorious American squad while also going 2-1 as a player at age 49.
"It's not unheard of," Els said. "I know things have changed a little bit, but we also have a lot more help than the guys did in 1994. There's a lot more assistant captains and so forth."
The Presidents Cup will be played Dec. 12-15, 2019, at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.