Melbourne, Australia: Tiger Woods has paid tribute to the support received from the new generation of stars for his amazing comeback from injury as he plots the United States’ quest in the 2019 Presidents Cup.
A little more than one year ago, Woods sat in the media centre at the Presidents Cup in 2017 just outside New York City and revealed he was unsure if he would ever play golf at the highest level again.
Fast forward 14 months and Woods has since delivered one of golf’s most compelling storylines, overcoming a fourth back surgery to claim his 80th PGA Tour title in August, contend for the FedEx Cup title where he finished second and also challenged in two of the Majors, finishing tied-sixth and runner-up at The Open Championship and PGA Championship respectively this year.
The recent winner of the Tour Championship was on a whirlwind two-day tour of Melbourne as the Captain for the US Team that will head to Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the next Presidents Cup (December 9-15, 2019).
As he prepares to enjoy a well-earned break after a rewarding year, Woods credited the young US team members with playing an important role in his comeback. “Mentally, it gave me a shot in the arm. The guys really encouraged me to come back and play. The text messages and the calls I got last year through the Presidents Cup was very uplifting,” Woods said during a press conference alongside the Yarra River in downtown Melbourne.
He also made it clear he wants to be a playing captain and help the US extend its domination over the International Team, which will be led by Ernie Els. In 12 editions since 1994, the US has won 10 times, lost once at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and tied with the Internationals in South Africa in 2003 where Woods battled Els in a sudden-death play-off in near darkness.
“Hopefully I can be a part of the eight that automatically qualify. If I don’t happen to be a part of that, then it’s up to me, my vice captains and the rest of the eight guys who automatically qualify (to decide) who’s going to be a part of the team, who best fits our groupings, our pairings, and will be part of the team.
“That’s a conversation I’ve got to have with my vice captains and the players, and hopefully I’ll be a part of the top eight. If not, then we’ve got to work on it,” said Woods, who is currently 16th on the team rankings.
Woods’ 26 hours in Melbourne included media activities, sponsor visits and charity fund-raising and began with a photo tour of what he called, ‘one of the greatest sporting cities in the world.’
His rapid-fire stops included media stunts at the Eureka Tower where the American superstar was challenged with the most nerve-racking six-foot putt in town – a putting game on the Eureka Tower Skydeck 88 stories above the city. Just as he drew his putter back, the frosted glass turned clear exposing to cityscape below. Without batting an eye, Woods sunk the putt.
From there, Woods stopped by a nearby graffiti wall where street-art of both he and Els is displayed in true Melbourne style. His final stop came at the iconic Brighton Beach Boxes where unsuspecting ‘nippers’ from a local primary school were spontaneously called over from the ocean to have a photo with the US team captain.
Woods also inspected the Royal Melbourne Golf Club with superintendent Richard Forsyth and shot a series of video and photo opportunities that included trick shots from YouTubers How Ridiculous and a surprise coaching moment with youth members of the Golf Australia My Golf programme. At a charity dinner with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, the two swapped stories about what makes the golf courses in the Sandbelt region special.
“Playing here in the Sandbelt golf courses, it’s just heaven,” Woods said. “We are in probably one of the greatest sporting countries, cities in the world.”
Woods has played in eight Presidents Cups but believes the next edition will be extra special. “I’ve been a part of the Presidents Cup for 20 years. Now to have the opportunity to be a captain and to lead my guys into an environment that’s going to be fun, it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be electric, and on top of that, on one of the best venues in all the world. There’s really nothing better as a player to evolve into the role of being a captain,” he said.
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