Tiger Woods, Ernie Els to captain Australia Presidents Cup

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els will duel in the Presidents Cup again, this time as captains.

Woods and Els have agreed to be captains for the 2019 matches in Melbourne, Australia, according to two people involved in the Presidents Cup. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the captain selections have not been announced.

They are expected to be introduced Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational near Orlando, Florida.

Woods has been heavily involved in team event while not playing in recent years because of back injuries. He was an assistant to Steve Stricker in the Presidents Cup last year, and he already has agreed to be a vice captain at the Ryder Cup this fall in France for the second straight time.

The development first was reported by the blog Morning Read.

The Presidents Cup, which began in 1994 and was patterned after the Ryder Cup to give international players from outside Europe a chance to compete, has been one-sided since the start. The International team’s only victory was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.

Els was the logical choice to be the next International captain, following three stints by Nick Price. One person with knowledge of the decision said Woods reached out to the PGA Tour about his interest in being the next captain.

Woods and Els are certain to inject some life into the matches, from their own relationship and history, and from the most intense moment in Presidents Cup history.

The 2003 matches ended in a tie at 17 at Fancourt in South Africa, the home country of Els. The rules then were for a player from each team to have his name placed in an envelope, and they would play sudden-death to decide the Presidents Cup.

Els and Woods matched par on the first extra hole. Els had to make a 12-foot par putt on the next hole to extend the playoff. In gathering darkness that made it difficult to read putts, Woods holed a double-breaking, 15-foot par putt on the third extra hole. Els had to make from 6 feet to match him.

When it was too dark to continue, and both teams on the green were debating what to do, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to share the cup.

Woods referred to it at the time as one of his most nerve-wracking moments. Els said it was the first time he felt his legs shake over a putt.

They also have battled plenty in tournaments. Els has been runner-up to Woods seven times, more than any other player. That includes twice in the majors, though Woods won those by 15 shots (2000 U.S. Open) and eight shots (2000 British Open).

In 1998 in Thailand, Woods rallied from an eight-shot deficit in the final round and beating Els in a playoff. A month later at Bay Hill, Els was two shots behind Woods and Love going into a 36-hole Sunday because of rain, and he beat Woods by 10 shots (and Love by 11) to win.

Off the course, Els is the player Woods sought out in the 1996 British Open when he was trying to decide whether to turn pro.

The 2019 matches will be Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne, the latest the Presidents Cup has been played. The Presidents Cup has been reduced to 30 matches over four days, and the format is not likely to change for the next one.

Woods was runner-up at the Valspar Championship on Sunday and plays at Bay Hill this week, where he is an eight-time winner. Hale Irwin is the only playing captain in the Presidents Cup, at the inaugural matches in 1994.

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