Now that we officially filled eight of our 12 spots, it’s time reflect on the past few weeks and then look at what’s ahead for the US Team.
First, this team is fired up. We have a great mix of younger guys like Xander, Bryson and Patrick and those who have had plenty of Cup experience like Dustin, Brooks, Kuch and Webb. As a captain, I couldn’t have asked for a more engaged and excited group of guys. December can’t get here soon enough.
One of my goals is to make sure we learn our lesson from the 1998 Presidents Cup. That was my first time playing in a Presidents Cup. With it being our off season in December, we didn’t arrive quite as sharp as a team and were beaten pretty badly.
I expect it to be different this time around.
During our team meeting at Liberty National in August, I urged my guys to play as much as their schedule allows in the Fall in order to arrive in Australia as solid, fresh and sharp as possible. The Internationals are going to be tough to beat, especially on their soil, so it’s a challenge we need to be prepared for.
While I was disappointed to not earn one of the top-8 spots, I’m hopeful to perform well at my next start in Japan. In the meantime, I’m going to rely on playing with some of the guys in Florida to stay sharp. I’ll practice hard, work on my game, and we'll have some matches. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also always fun.
RIGHT: Woods is keeping a close on eye on PGA Tour winner and rookie Matthew Wolff. PHOTO: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.
At the end of the day, the decision of who rounds out this team will ultimately be my call, but I’m going to lean heavily on the opinions of my captain’s assistants and the eight guys who have already earned a spot.
My plan is to keep an open line of communication to ensure we find the four guys who best fit this team. We will be watching the fall events closely. There are so many guys who are world-class players who aren’t yet on the team like Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth and many more. The Fall events will also allow me to get extended looks at two young rookies, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, who all played well after turning pro late in the season.
A few guys, like Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, have never been to Australia, so this will be a brand-new experience for them. I can’t wait to show off how special Royal Melbourne Golf Club and the Sandbelt courses are to these guys.
I’m especially interested to see how the rookies handle the pressure and respond to that atmosphere, because it’s really unlike anything in golf. Thankfully, our first-time players, Xander and Patrick Cantlay, are both very solid.
It’s going to be a great experience down at Royal Melbourne. Having played in two Presidents Cups on the Composite Course, I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys attack it. When I first played there in ’98, I thought it was just an amazing experience to play something that quick, that fast and where you really have to think your way around the course. The wind plays such a major factor in how the golf course is played. If you get the northerlies coming in there and it gets hard and fast and it's hot, that place is one of the most demanding golf courses you'll ever play.
The guys will thoroughly enjoy the fact that the ball runs. It'll move on the fairways and it'll move on the greens. Some of the guys who have played events in the Sandbelt in the past will tell you it’s one of the best collections of golf courses on the planet. It’s really a unique experience and some of the greatest golf you play.
I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere at Royal Melbourne. Melbourne is one of the greatest sporting cities in the world and I know their fans will turn out to watch another great Presidents Cup. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, make sure you head to PresidentsCup.com.
Till next time.
Captain Playing Captain