Presidents Cup captain’s picks primer: What you need to know for Tiger Woods’ picks tonight

November 7, 2019
Tiger Woods laughs during the 2017 Presidents Cup. Woods was an assistant captain that year, but he'll call the shots in 2019.

Tiger Woods makes his Presidents Cup captain’s picks tonight, a crucial task of Woods’ duties as team captain and essentially the final step before we see the 24 U.S. and International players that are headed to Royal Melbourne. Here’s what you need to know.

Presidents Cup captain’s picks schedule

International captain Ernie Els unveiled his four captain’s picks on Wednesday night (or Thursday morning in Australia), and now it’s Woods’ turn. He’ll announce his at 7 p.m. ET tonight on Golf Channel, which will be Friday morning in Australia. After that we’ll have 12 players for both sides and one month before the first balls are in the air.

U.S. Presidents Cup team so far

Eight players were solidified months ago via the auto-qualification process. Dustin Johnson, Brook Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay already have their spots locked up. Koepka might be a wild card, though. He hasn’t played since he withdrew from the CJ Cup last month with a knee injury. Woods would get another pick to fill that spot if Koepka can’t go.

The potential U.S. Presidents Cup captain’s picks

THE FRONTRUNNERS

Tiger Woods — It wasn’t long ago that many thought Woods would just stick to captaining the team after a couple of rough starts to end the season and another knee surgery… and then he won the Zozo Championship in his first start of the season. At this point it would be quite the surprise if he doesn’t use a pick on himself.

Gary Woodland — The 2019 U.S. Open champ nearly made the team on points and played 36 holes with Woods at the Zozo. That’s more than enough time to get in Tiger’s ear and plead your case.

THE HOPEFULS

Tony Finau — He was the first man out after the auto-qualifying period ended. Is that enough to warrant a pick? His play hasn’t been sharp his last couple of starts.

Rickie Fowler — Fowler has been a staple on these team events and is a friend of Woods, but he also hasn’t played an event in more than two months. Although he has good reason; he and Allison Stokke had their wedding last month. But still, too rusty?

Patrick Reed — He was 12th when auto qualifying ended and he’s dynamite in match play (and lots of practice rounds with Woods doesn’t hurt) but he also created plenty of controversy at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. We’ll see if that comes back to bite him.

Kevin Kisner — He was 15th in points when qualifying ended and had a solid finish to the 2019-20 season. He’s also great in match play. He won the WGC Match Play last season and was the runner-up in 2018.

Jordan Spieth — Spieth was way down the list at 27th when auto qualifying ended, and even though he played better toward the end of last season he hasn’t cracked the top 40 in his last two starts. But still, it’s Jordan Spieth, and his 3-1 record when teamed with Thomas in Paris has to count for something, right?

Kevin Na — His big win at the Shriners last month was a nice boost to his resume.

THE LONG SHOTS

Phil Mickelson — He’s played in 24 straight team events but that streak might soon come to an end. Plus, he’s said on a couple of different occasions he doesn’t deserve a pick.

Chez Reavie — He was 14th on the final points list but hasn’t stood out so far in the fall season.

Bubba Watson — His play has been okay and he loves these team events — remember how he was an assistant captain at Hazeltine? — but he’d still be a reach for this one.

Now what?

The Presidents Cup is Dec. 13-15 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. In the States the first day of action will air on Thursday evening, Dec. 12. A complete TV schedule will be released at a later date.