Presidents Cup head Matt Kamienski says this year’s event will be 30 percent bigger than it was the last time it came to Melbourne in 2011, but he’s still unclear whether Tiger Woods will be part of the scene as a player.
Kamienski, vice-president and executive director of the Presidents Cup, is waiting with bated breath like everyone else to hear if Woods will make a third Royal Melbourne appearance as a player in the event, following the 1998 and 2011 versions in Melbourne. He is already committed to be the US captain regardless.
Crowds and television ratings would undoubtedly spike if the 15-time major champion is up to playing, for nobody moves the needle like Tiger. But until Woods names his four captain’s picks for the United States team on November 8, no one will know.
“I know for a fact that Tiger’s goal from the beginning when he became captain was to be a playing captain,” Kamienski told Golf Australia’s Inside The Ropes podcast today. “He asked the question, ‘has there been a playing captain?’ He found out Hale Irwin did it the first year (1994), and he said: ‘You know I want to be a playing captain as well’.
“I know that goal hasn’t changed. He wanted to make it on merit, I know he wanted to be in the top eight. It’ll depend how he’s feeling health-wise.’’
Will he? Or won't he?
Kamienski said the other American players wanted Woods to play. “I’d have to say everybody on that US team (wants him). The greatest golfer of this generation, the one most of those guys on that team started playing golf because of, they want him to play on that team. They want that opportunity of playing with Tiger Woods. They’re excited about him being captain but they’d be pushing him to play.’’
The odds at the moment favour Woods playing on top of his captain’s role. He is still ranked ninth in the world and is the reigning Masters champion so he hardly would need to justify his own selection – even if the circumstances are a little awkward.
Woods will name four captain’s picks, alongside International captain Ernie Els, to go with the eight players from each team who qualified automatically.
Among those hoping to be snapped up on the American side are the likes of veteran Phil Mickelson, former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth and world No. 13 Tony Finau as well as US Open champion Gary Woodland.
The favourites to earn the last spots on the International team include Australia’s Jason Day and South Korea’s Sungjae Im. There are already three Australians on the International team – Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith.
The Presidents Cup is at Royal Melbourne from 12 December. Kamienski said crowds could reach 35,000 on tournament days, with the grand, old course preening herself now that the winter is done.
“It’s looking phenomenal,” he said. “That golf course has come out of winter really well, and it’s only going to get better. We just started our build this week, and we’re off and running.”