Why Tiger picked Tiger … and 15 other things about the U.S. captain’s picks – pgatour.com

Tiger could limit himself to the minimum of two matches required for each player. One would be with a partner, and the other would be in Sunday Singles. That could help reduce the strain on his body.

Right now, he’s not putting an exact number on it. “If I happen to play more, I have to play more,” he said.

Speaking of partners, Tiger did say he’s given specific thought to his own partner, having discussed that possibility with his assistants and some of his players. He wouldn’t reveal a specific name, of course.

“It’s one of the other 11 players,” he said coyly.

Of those 11 other players, he’s partnered with four of them in either a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup – Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.

Here’s an incentive that might push Tiger to play more than two matches: He’ll arrive at Royal Melbourne with 24 matches played in his Presidents Cup career. The record is 26 held by longtime rival/U.S. teammate Phil Mickelson. Tiger is guaranteed to tie Mickelson, but maybe he finds a way to add a third match to sit alone atop the record books.

Speaking of Mickelson, his streak of making every U.S. Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team ended with Thursday’s announcement. Mickelson had made 24 consecutive teams, including every Presidents Cup. He also saw his streak of 25-plus seasons inside the world top 50 also end recently.

One potential U.S. pairing might be Woodland, one of the captain’s picks, with automatic qualifier Matt Kuchar. They were partners in 2011 when the won the World Cup for the U.S. That’s the only team event the reigning U.S. Open champ has appeared in. For now, Woodland’s just happy to be on the team. “I’ll play with anybody,” he said.

Whether Mickelson was one of the five players Tiger called to deliver the bad news of not being a captain’s pick is unclear. The only player Woods identified that he called was Rickie Fowler, who was married this fall and has yet to play since the FedExCup Playoffs.

Fowler has made six U.S. national team appearances, including the last two Presidents Cups.

“That was a tough phone call,” Woods said. “Rickie’s a good friend of mine and I’ve known him for a long time. Kept it short and quick. No reason to make it a lengthy conversation. He’s obviously going to be very disappointed by it. I’ve been on that side. I’ve been there when the captain didn’t choose me, and I get it. It’s not easy.

“But Rickie is a hell of a player and he’s going to start winning tournaments here. He’s fresh off of his new wedding, his bride and honeymoon, and he’ll be focused and he’ll start winning tournaments.”

Fowler, though, might be on the short list of players Tiger considers should he need a replacement for Brooks Koepka, who aggravated an injury to his left knee during the Asian Swing.

Woods said he has until Wednesday morning of Presidents Cup week to make a final determination on whether Koepka is ready to play.

“Right now we’re just waiting on Brooks’ rehab and playing back to golf and when he’ll be ready,” Woods said. “That’s open-ended and we’ll cross that bridge when we cross it.”

Speaking of roster adjustments … Because he’s now a playing captain, Woods will need his assistants to take up some of the slack while he’s on the course. Right now, Woods has three assistants, but he has room to add another if he wants.

“It’s nice having that option,” Woods said. “… although we can roll with just the four of us that we have right now.”

Woods’ counterpart, International Team Captain Ernie Els, has four assistants – Geoff Ogilvy, Trevor Immelman, K.J. Choi and Mike Weir.

Tiger becomes just the second player in Presidents Cup history to become a playing captain. Another American, Hale Irwin, was the first at the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994. Unlike Woods, Irwin qualified without needing a captain’s pick, as he ranked seventh in points to earn an automatic spot.

Irwin played three matches that week at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. He and partner Loren Roberts beat David Frost and Fulton Allem in Friday Foursomes, 3 and 1. In Saturday Foursomes, Irwin and Jay Haas lost to Frost and Peter Senior, 6 and 6. Then in Sunday Singles in the opening match, Irwin beat Australian Robert Allenby, 1 up.

Eleven of the 12 players on the U.S. Team are ranked higher in the Official World Golf Ranking than the highest-ranking International player. The only American ranked below an International is Matt Kuchar at No. 22. Adam Scott (17) and Hideki Matsuyama (20) are currently above him. Understatement of the day from Woods: “We’re going to have a pretty solid team.”

Ages of the U.S. players in 1998, the only time the Americans lost the Presidents Cup: Justin Thomas, 5 years old; Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, 6 years old; Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, 8 years old; Tony Finau, 9 years old; Webb Simpson, 13 years old; Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland, 14 years old; Matt Kuchar, 20 years old; Tiger Woods, 22 years old.