P-US captain Fred Couples has pulled rank, telling Tiger Woods he must play more before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in November.
Couples wants Woods on his team, provided the struggling former world No.1 plays tournaments before showing up at the Australian Open in Sydney a week before the Presidents Cup.
Couples said on Wednesday he has talked to Woods’ agent about playing more events and “we’re going to figure out a way that we can get this done.”
Beset by injury and loss of form in the past two years, Woods needs one of Couples’ two captain’s pick spots to get on the US team.
But he missed the cut at last week’s US PGA Championship – only his second tournament in four months – and failed to qualify for the US tour’s playoffs series starting next week.
That makes him ineligible for any US tour event until the first week of October.
Couples has to make his captain’s picks on September 26, the day after the Tour Championship, the final playoff series event.
“He (Woods) can’t just show up the week before in Australia,” Couples said at the Senior Players Championship.
“I have made it clear that whoever I picked will be playing the Australian (Open) tournament the week before. But I need him to play more than just there.
“There’s quite a few tournaments after the Tour Championship.”
Woods already has a contract to play in the Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney.
The Presidents Cup is the week after, on November 17-20. Woods has played the biennial event ever since he first became eligible in 1998.
Couples and Woods are long-time friends, and when Couples agreed to return as captain, he jokingly sent Woods a text message telling him to play well so the captain wouldn’t have to waste a pick on him.
Turns out it was no joke.
“I really want him on the team based on my opinion that he’s been the best player for 10 straight years,” Couples said.
“I don’t think you can push him down because he’s notplaying maybe as well as 20 other guys that could be picked. A couple of times I’ve been picked for a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup, and sometimes that’s just the way it falls.”
After his news conference, Couples told Golf Digest website: “From what I see, he’s looking to turn it around quicker, but not playing much golf. He may read that and say, ‘Screw him.’ I mean he’s my favourite player. But to get better, you gotta play.”
Woods said upon leaving the PGA Championship that he has plenty of time to work on his game, but he did not rule out playing more.
“I just don’t know how he can sit there and think his game is going to improve,” Couples said.
“I’m the captain, and he wants to be on the team,” Couples said. “This is my chance to hold my rank above him one time. And I’m going to do it.
“Look, he has carried this tour for a long time. If somebody looks at it wrong, if I end up picking him – which I probably will – they would be crazy. He doesn’t want to go there and lose. He hates to lose. So he’s going to do his best.
“But I’ve got to push him to play a little bit so he’ll do a little bit better.”
Meanwhile, Couples said PGA champion Keegan Bradley was not guaranteed a captain’s pick if he needed one. Bradley is a 25-year-old rookie who has won twice this year, including the final major of the year.
“I firmly believe that the way he’s playing, he’s going to play his way on the team,” Couples said. “And that would be, for him, the safest way of getting on this team. If he doesn’t make it, he’s got a great shot at being picked.”
Players have until the third playoff event – the BMW Championship in Chicago that ends September 18 – to finish among the top 10 and qualifying. Bradley is at No.18.