When Fred Couples dodges a question, it’s usually by accident. So, when someone asked him at his press conference today about selecting Tiger Woods for the Presidents Cup team he gave a straight answer. Yes, the Captain’s picks were supposed to be announced at the end of September, but why delay? Tiger’s on the team. No more hemming and hawing about Tiger needing to play more. No more speculation. Tiger’s playing. Fred’s reasoning? The guy has been the best player in the World for a long time. He’s insanely competitive. Do you really expect him to show up in Australia and embarrass himself? Fred doesn’t.
Of course, it’s known that Tiger and Fred are buddies, and Fred isn’t one to split ties over off-course activities, so most people are classifying this selection as the ultimate favor. It’s already created quite a backlash. People can’t believe that Tiger is getting special treatment. He’s ranked 28th in the point standings. Seventeen guys looking for a Captain’s Pick are ahead of him. Tiger’s coming off an injury and a grizzly missed cut at the PGA. And, if you didn’t know, Tiger isn’t exactly a pillar of morality in the community these days, either. This is the kind of story that will have Rick Reilly outraged.
Before we go any further, lets look at some of the illuminaries that Fred passed over to get to Tiger at 28. We’ve got known assassins Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore. We’ve got PGA folding chair Jason Dufner. We’ve got Mr. 5-hr round, Kevin Na and Charles Howell III (really, Charles Howell? Is that right?). There’s Bo Van Pelt and Zach Johnson and Gary Woodland. Meh. It basically comes down to Tiger, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley for 2 spots as it plays out now. Bradley has only had a chance to accumulate points for 1 year and appears to have a bit of an inside track, but don’t count out Furyk. Fowler, of course, is everyone’s darling, but if he’d closed out any of a handful of tournaments, he’d be on the team by merit.
If you take away Tiger’s off-course issues, this is exactly the kind of pick that Captains have been making for years. Adding a veteran (to a team that could probably use one) is the reason that Fred himself made a few Presidents and Ryder Cup teams. And, I think we drastically overestimate the animosity there is toward Tiger on tour. We’d love to think that all the good guys rallied together and now look down their noses at Tiger, but that’s total BS. Tiger is likely still very well liked and respected (for the heights he reached with his game) in the locker room, and if he happens to get back his form? It’ll be just like Michael Vick, the boys will line right back up behind him.