Els and Woods to continue their rivalry in Melbourne
Ernie Els and Tiger Woods have been named as captains of the International and United States teams, respectively, for the 2019 Presidents Cup to be held in Melbourne at the end of next year.
While both will be first-time captains at the event, the two are the most experienced captains in terms of Presidents Cup competition and were the primary figures in the 2003 event held in South Africa, where Woods and Els competed in a dramatic sudden-death play-off that ultimately ended in a tie and the two teams sharing the cup.
Els has competed in the Presidents Cup eight times (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), tied for most by an International team member.
Woods, also an eight-time US Presidents Cup team member (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), holed the winning putt for the United States in 2009, 2011 and 2013 – the only player to clinch the cup three times.
Both Woods and Els served as captain’s assistants for their respective teams in 2017.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: “Ernie Els and Tiger Woods have each been part of the fabric of the Presidents Cup as competitors and as ambassadors to the event.
“Ernie carries the flag for international golf as a legendary figure both on and off the golf course, while Tiger has been one of the most transcendent athletes the sport has ever seen.
“These two have served, and will continue to serve, as a bridge between past team members and captains who laid the foundation for the Presidents Cup and the stars of today who are embracing the hallmarks of the event – golf on a global stage, a love and passion for the game and the impact the Presidents Cup has in emerging markets and through charity.”
In addition to the announcement of the two captains, officials also unveiled minor changes to format requirements and eligibility for the 2019 Presidents Cup, which will be staged at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Each player shall play a minimum of one match prior to the final-round singles matches. This is a change from past years where players were required to play twice during the same timeframe.
Additionally, the top eight players for the International and US team standings will officially qualify following the completion of the 2019 Tour Championship. Captains will later select four captains’ picks (at date to be determined) closer to the event.
Els and Woods have combined for 97 PGA Tour victories, including 20 World Golf Championships events and 18 Major championship titles, with 59 additional wins internationally.
Following the completion of the 34 matches at the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa, the score was tied at 17-17, which meant a sudden-death play-off between Els and Woods as selected by then-captains Gary Playerand Jack Nicklaus.
With sunlight fading, both players made pars on the first play-off hole. With Woods in for par on the second play-off hole, Els knocked in his 12-footer to halve. The two again traded dramatic par putts on the third play-off hole with darkness upon them. It was then decided to end the competition and declare the event a tie.
“The Presidents Cup has provided me with many of the best memories of my career,” said Els. “To be named captain of the team is an incredible honour. There is a fun and talented group of young players emerging from all across the globe for the International Team, and I am eager to accept the responsibility of building a winner when we face the United States at one of my favourite courses and cities in the world at Royal Melbourne.
“Tiger and I have had some great duels in the past, and I look forward to the challenge of going against my long-time friend yet again in 2019.”
Woods said: “After working as a captain’s assistant in 2017, I realised that I wanted to captain the 2019 event at Royal Melbourne. I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of past captains like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Ken Venturi, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and Steve Stricker.
“The core group of players on the US team have a lot of talent, enthusiasm and great team camaraderie. They are easy-going and fun to be around off the course, but extremely competitive inside the ropes. I have no doubt that Ernie will have the International Team ready to go in Melbourne, and I cannot think of a more fitting captain to carry the tradition of goodwill through competition than Ernie Els.
“The sand belt courses of Australia are some of my favourite in the world, and I’m looking forward to seeing Royal Melbourne again.”