Fred Couples received a lot of attention – some of it negative – when he announced more than a month ago that Tiger Woods would be one of his captain’s picks for the 2011 U.S. Presidents Cup team.
And when it came time to make the selections official on Tuesday, Couples didn’t flinch, going with Woods, a guy who won 14 major championships but hasn’t finished first in a tournament since November of 2009, just before reports of infidelity exploded into the open.
Couples also picked Bill Haas, winner of the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup last Sunday, to round out the 12-man team that will face an International team from Nov. 18 through 20 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
International captain Greg Norman went with a pair of Australians as his picks – Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley.
There were some who faulted Couples for using a pick on Woods, and not on a player who has had an excellent season on the PGA Tour such as Keegan Bradley, who won the PGA Championship and the Byron Nelson Invitational. Woods, who spent an eternity as the world’s No. 1 player, has seen his world ranking plummet to 50th this week.
(Couples did say that Bradley would be the replacement for any current team member who would not be able to play due to injury.)
Woods, who missed a good chunk of the season with injuries to his left knee and left Achilles tendon, has not played competitive golf since the PGA Championship, where he missed the cut. He was not eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is scheduled to play next week at the Frys.com Open in California and then take extended time off before the Australian Open and the Presidents Cup.
Woods told a conference call that he is practicing and playing as much as he can at The Medalist Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.
“It’s something that I hadn’t done all summer because I hadn’t been cleared to do it,” he said. “Now I have the clearance to do that. My training sessions are great. Strength has come back. My explosiveness has come back through my training and now I’m just trying to get my feel back, and it feels great.”
Woods said he is “really excited” to compete again.
“I’ve practiced, something I had not done in preparation for Akron (the Bridgestone Invitational) and the PGA,” he said. “Now that I’ve actually practiced, I’ve gotten even stronger in my lifting sessions, so things are definitely shaping up quickly.”
An interesting development for Woods going forward is the fact that he hired Joe LaCava, the long-time caddie for Couples, as his permanent caddie replacing Steve Williams. LaCava left the bag of Dustin Johnson, a promising young player, to go with Woods.