Tiger Woods – a decision to make photo Presidents Cup
With just one more event in which Presidents Cup captain pick’s hopefuls can make an impression on either Tiger Woods or Ernie Els, this week’s WGC HSBS Champions event in Shanghai takes on even greater importance for many than just its role as one of the World Golf Championship events.
With the four captain’s picks from each side finalised at the completion of the event, several appear to be still in the mix and performances this week might assist in swaying a captain’s mind one way or the other.
For the Americans, much will depend on Tiger Woods’ decision to play or not as to just how many of those four places are up for grabs but given the assistance Fred Couples, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson will offer to Woods throughout the week on Melbourne then there appears no real reason why he should not select himself.
As a winner of a major this year and now, as the latest winner on the PGA Tour, then should he decide to include himself nobody could deny Woods his right to play from a credential viewpoint.
Gary Woodland would appear to have done enough to come under serious scrutiny for the same reasons. He of course is the current US Open Champion and with two top fives in his last two starts he has found form at the right time after a relatively lean time since his US Open win.
That Woodland played in front of Woods for much of last week and appears to have a very friendly relationship with him will not hurt either. Nobody could deny his right to be in the team on current form and given the reason for the delay in finalising teams was for just that – to have the most in form players in the side – then it makes sense.
Other players in the mix for consideration and playing in Shanghai are Patrick Reed, Tony Finau and Kevin Na and if there are just two places remaining then the performances of those three this week might well determine the final make-up of the US side for Royal Melbourne.
Surely, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson could only now be considered outsiders to make the team. Only Mickelson is playing this week and he would likely need to win to force his way into consideration and Fowler has not competed since the Tour Championship.
Of course, the additional problem for Woods and the US camp is whether Brooks Koepka will be fit enough, given his recent knee injury and withdrawal from the event in Korea. If that was to be the case, then it opens up another spot for the Americans.
For the International side it would appear the battle for the three places given Jason Day is likely a lock, is between Koreans Sungjae Im and Byeong Hun An, Canadians Adam Hadwin and Corey Conners and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann.
Im was rookie of the year on the PGA Tour this season after leading the Web.com Tour the previous season. Given his outstanding recent from which has included a runner-up and 3rd place in PGA Tour events and a win in Korea then he appears a lock.
An has recorded top ten finishes in three of his last four events on the PGA Tour and, given that form, it is hard to see him being left out, especially if he plays well this week.
Niemann won recently on the PGA Tour and has played solidly for much of the season. Given his status as one of the PGA Tour’s rising stars he must be a strong chance and if that is to be the case then the final spot might be a toss up between the Canadians Conners and Hadwin.
Both have played well in recent weeks, Conners also winning the Texas Open earlier in the year.
Hadwin was runner-up at the Safeway Open in California just a few weeks ago and 4th in Las Vegas and brings solid form to this week.
The Canadians might well be playing to knock each other out this week and that battle alone should be intriguing.
The finalisation of the respective sides on Monday 4th of November will further highlight the disparity in the sides in terms of world ranking with all eight of the automatically qualified American side inside the current top 13 in the world.
The leading ranked international player in 15th place is Adam Scott, the Australian the only one of his side in the world top twenty. Hideki Matsuyama is the next highest ranked player in 22nd position.