Tiger, will you play in Melbourne?
Tiger, will you play in Melbourne?

Tiger battles Presidents Cup conundrum

RIGHT now if he asked most people, especially everyone intending to go to Royal Melbourne next December, the answer would be a unanimous yes.

But Tiger Woods hopes he doesn't need to have a stern conversation with himself in 20 months time when he returns to the city he described as "probably the greatest sporting town".

The 14-time major champion decided, while focusing intensely on his in his own playing comeback without knowing how it would go, to take over as captain of the US Presidents Cup team for the 2019 event being played at the famous sand belt layout.

Woods, 42, was always going to be captain sometime, but opted to take on the leadership duties amid his own playing resurgence which has surprised plenty.

Tiger Woods on his way to a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship.
Tiger Woods on his way to a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship.

He's on the third line of the betting for the US Masters next month, despite having played just four regular tour events this year after a sustained period of injury affected absence.

And strangely enough, his intent for the months between now and the Presidents Cup is to "try and beat" all his potential teammates too.

So he could, in 20 months, be a walk-up to make the US team anyway, and become just the second playing captain in the event's 25 year history.

That's what he'd prefer too, but if his comeback keeps going this well, it would be hard to argue if he picked himself.

"I would like to get to a point where I would have to make that decision (about playing), get to where I am playing well enough that I could make the team on points," Wood said from Florida.

"But I wouldn't want to have the conversation and go, "Self." I don't really want to have that conversation, so I let's just see how it progresses."

Tiger Woods after winning the 2009 Australian Masters.
Tiger Woods after winning the 2009 Australian Masters.

There's a strong chance Woods could be in Melbourne before next December too, confirming yesterday a reconnaissance mission was likely.

"It is a long way to come but it's also worth it. I have to work out some logistical things so that our players and support staff feel very comfortable. So yes, I will definitely be down there," he said.

Whether he's playing or not next December, the involvement of Woods and South Africa legend Ernie Els as the new international team captain, is a massive boost for the Presidents Cup.

Both have been part of all bar one version and are massive supporters of an event which could be, more than ever, the US against Australia this time around.

Changes to the format allow for eight qualifiers, based on ranking points, and then four captain's picks.

Ernie Els leads the Internationals into battle.
Ernie Els leads the Internationals into battle.

Els, who knows and loves Royal Melbourne, where the International team secured it's only win in 1998, wouldn't rule out loading up on Aussies to help secure a second victory.

After 20 years of US dominance, the South African knows an International win is a must. And Royal Melbourne, with a team full of Aussies, could be just the right recipe.

"Obviously, Royal Melbourne, it's a golf course where a lot of Australians have played through the years and they're very familiar with the surroundings and conditions down there and it could be a possibility," Els said.

"We're quite a ways away, but if there's certain players that are really looking like they are playing well and have had a lot of success it could be a possibility. Now I want to choose the players that can have the best chance of getting the Cup back."