Date: December 06, 2018
Author: Golf Australia

Tiger puts Bahamas over Aus Open

Tiger Woods will resist calls to have his players prepare for next year’s Presidents Cup at the Australian Open.

Woods, the American captain on a whistle-stop tour of Melbourne to promote the December 2019 tournament at Royal Melbourne, has come under criticism for having his own charity tournament in the Bahamas on the same week as the national championship at The Australian in Sydney.

Both tournaments are a week before the Presidents Cup, but Woods told a media conference today that the Hero World Challenge would be his recommendation to the American team before the 12-15 December event in Melbourne.

There is a strong suggestion the Bahamas tournament will be shifted forward by a day to give the players more time to make the trip to Melbourne.

“My job is to make sure that my guys are prepared, they’re still playing and they’re fresh late in the year,” Woods said.

Asked if he would push his player towards the Australian Open (as captain Fred Couples did in 2011 when the Presidents Cup was at Royal Melbourne), he said: “I hope they play at the Hero World Challenge. That’s an obvious one. But we’ll see what happens. We have to figure some of the logistical things between now and then.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m here to try to figure that out. We’ve got a few meetings scheduled in today, try to get a better plan going forward, so that we can get the best that we can at the Hero as well as getting everyone here from the Bahamas to this tournament rested, get them prepared and get them ready to play.”

Woods said the memory of the Americans’ only defeat in the 24-year history of the Presidents Cup, at Melbourne in 1998, will drive them on at the biennial teams event.

“Of course. Jack (Nicklaus) was our captain, it was late in the year, December, and we didn’t have the wrap-around schedule that we have now. The guys took quite a bit of time off and, quite frankly, we weren’t prepared to play, and we got smoked.”

The Americans have won 10 of the 12 previous Presidents Cups over the International team, with the matches in South Africa in 2003 tied.

Woods spent part of Wednesday running a junior clinic and paid a visit to Royal Melbourne which unsurprisingly, he found almost exactly the same as it was when he most recently competed in Melbourne in 2011. He called it “one of the greatest golf courses in all of the world” and his love of the Sandbelt courses (he has also competed at Kingston Heath and Victoria) is well documented.

Today he did the rounds of the morning television programs and radio shows before a full-scale media conference in the open air beside the Yarra River, where accreditation was required — a rarity for a mere interview opportunity.

The former long-time world No.1 is travelling with his partner, Erica Herman, and his two children but is having a rest from playing after a ground-breaking season on the US PGA Tour where he won for the first time in five years and after four back operations.

With his resurgence as a player he is now likely to play at Royal Melbourne next year, although to automatically qualify he needs to be in the top eight on the Tour's points listing at the end of the 2018-19 season. If he is not, there are four “captain's picks” to be added, meaning he could sit in judgment of himself, an extraordinary situation.

“I’m part of the team, either way,” he said. “Hopefully I’m part of the top eight. If not, myself and my vice-captains will have to figure out the next four guys who are best served to be part of this team.”