I would have paid money to watch Tiger Woods crunch numbers on his locked Google Sheets database as he grinded over who his four captain’s picks should be. In the end, he want mostly chalk, which is what you should do as the favorite in a competition like the Presidents Cup.
Woods chose himself (No. 7 in the OWGR), Tony Finau (No. 14), Patrick Reed (No. 15) and Gary Woodland (No. 16). All four of the United States captain’s picks are ranked higher than every single golfer on the International team’s 12-man roster. This seems problematic.
So here’s the group Woods, the captain of this year’s team, will take to Royal Melbourne Golf Club in December as the Yanks look to make it eight straight against Ernie Els’ boys (and with six rookies on the International team, it seems likely that they will).
- Brooks Koepka*: OWGR No. 1
- Dustin Johnson: No. 3
- Justin Thomas: No. 4
- Patrick Cantlay: No. 6
- Tiger Woods: No. 7
- Xander Schauffele: No. 9
- Bryson DeChambeau: No. 10
- Webb Simpson: No. 11
- Tony Finau: No. 14
- Patrick Reed: No. 15
- Gary Woodland: No. 16
- Matt Kuchar: No. 22
*Koepka is still a question mark with a lingering knee injury.
Again, the International team only has two players ranked higher than anyone on the U.S. side. Scott and Hideki Matsuyama are both ranked higher than No. 22 Kuchar. That’s it. There’s a reason the U.S. is a -275 favorite to win when this tournament rolls around in December.
With the teams now set (), it’s time to hand out some grades for Woods’ four selections on Thursday.
Tiger Woods: Since he won the Zozo Championship in October, there hasn’t been a question as to whether he would pick himself. The only question that remained is whether he will play with his earpiece in or out at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Grade: A
Patrick Reed: Remember when we buried him this time last year and said the only way he would ever make another team is to qualify automatically? A year later, and the very person he tossed under the bus is the same one who just chose him to be a captain’s pick. Match-play putting — as they say — covers over a multitude of sins. Reed has healthy records in both singles and team play at all match play events, and I don’t think even he can spoil a Presidents Cup team room. Grade: A-
Gary Woodland: This one could have been tough if Woodland hadn’t played well in Asia. It would have been awkward to leave off the reigning U.S. Open champ, but it also would have been justified. However, Woodland buoyed himself with top fives at the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, the latter alongside Woods. This will be his first Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup (!), and he’ll be an absolute menace from tee to green. Grade: A-
Tony Finau: This was likely the final selection for Woods, even though Finau finished 9th in the standings. He stumbled in Asia, but he was a revelation at the Ryder Cup last year. That matters. He baptized Tommy Fleetwood in the Seine and went 2-1-0 when nobody was doing much of anything. I want Tony Finau at my team events in the future. Grade: A+
Life is good for captain Woods. There are no wrong choices. If you don’t go Finau, you get a player in Rickie Fowler who is ranked higher than 10 of the 12 International players. The formula for the U.S. team is simple: Stay in your lane and play the quality of golf you normally play. They don’t have to try and do too much because, to be blunt, they’re simply a lot better than the other side.