Woods promised Presidents place
United States Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples has delivered Tiger Woods an early Christmas present by promising the former world number one a place in his team next year.
There was some uncertainty about Woods's wildcard selection for the Ryder Cup held two months ago but Couples has no doubts about his involvement against the International team at Royal Melbourne in November.
"I can't imagine Tiger is not going to be among the top-10 automatic qualifiers," Couples told Reuters after carding a level-par 72 in the opening round of the Australian Open at The Lakes course on Thursday.
"But whether he qualifies automatically or not he is going to be on my team no matter what. I can make that prediction now without hesitation."
Couples said Woods's game was a perfect fit for next year's Presidents Cup venue.
"Tiger's place on the team is a certainty," added the skipper. "He played in the team in 1998 when we last went to Royal Melbourne and having seen the course earlier this week it's perfect for Tiger.
"Tiger's still got a year to cement his place in the team and a year to get back to being the number one player in the world," said Couples.
"While I haven't seen much of Tiger of late because I'm playing on the Champions Tour (for seniors) I am sure at the start of next year he's going to come out fighting harder than ever."
Woods is now sixth in the Presidents Cup points table and looking good for automatic selection.
Couples said he would not go down the same road as European Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie and U.S. counterpart Corey Pavin by surrounding himself with a host of vice-captains.
"I don't want many people around telling me what to do," he said after announcing earlier this week that Jay Haas and former basketball great Michael Jordan would be his deputies.
"If you have four (or five) vice-captains like they had at the Ryder Cup, in my opinion you get too confused as you're getting too much information.
"As soon as the tournament starts the players should be fine. If they need a sandwich you get them a sandwich. If they need a towel you find them a towel," added Couples.
"But to have four vice-captains ... is not for me and it would just be too confusing to listen to so many people."
Couples said he learned a lot by watching the Americans get beaten in Wales in October.
"I enjoyed watching the Ryder Cup and any time you are captain of a team you do learn and I learned a lot watching coverage of the event from Wales," he said.
"It's just amazing because when you're out there it should seem so easy but every shot you play is like you're playing the 18th hole on the last day of a major."
Couples said he was sparing with his advice as skipper in the last Presidents Cup match in 2009.
"At San Francisco last time when we won I only worked closely with two or three guys because what am I going to say to guys like Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson or Tiger that hasn't already been said?," he explained.
"I only had to tell them one thing and that was how important it was that we won.
"But having looked at the Ryder Cup, Corey didn't do a thing wrong and if the American team had have come back somehow on the last day then he would have earned all the glory."
Couples will next year be up against International captain Greg Norman for the second Presidents Cup running.