Joe LaCava still isn’t sure if his services will be required in Australia in December. In an interview with The Post-Crescent, Tiger Woods’ longtime caddie revealed that he doesn’t think Woods, the Presidents Cup captain, has decided on his final four captain’s picks — including the hot-button question of whether he’ll pick himself.
“If I knew I would tell you, and if he knew he would tell us,” LaCava said in the interview. “I think he wants to wait to see how he plays in Japan. I think he wants to see how the guys are playing outside the top eight between now and Nov. 1 when he makes his picks.”
Woods has played it cool when discussing his picks process and said he would want the full support of the team if he is to play and captain in tandem. He caused a mini-stir when he signed his Presidents Cup captain’s blog “U.S. Team Captain,” but crossed that out and replaced it with “Playing Captain.” But it turns out Woods has been doing that as far back as April.
If Woods plays, he’ll be the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in the inaugural Cup in 1994. Arnold Palmer was another notable U.S. playing captain when he pulled double duty in the 1963 Ryder Cup.
Still, LaCava insists that Woods hasn’t made up his mind. Eight players qualified on points for the Presidents Cup team, but there’s a long list of contenders vying for those final four spots. Tony Finau was ninth in the original standings, followed by U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and then Woods himself. Kevin Na made a strong case for his inclusion after a win in Las Vegas, and fans of the Tour’s young guns have murmured about sending Matthew Wolff or Collin Morikawa to Melbourne.
Although Phil Mickelson hasn’t missed a U.S. Team event in 24 years, he and fellow 2018 Ryder Cuppers Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson are unlikely to make this year’s squad.
Woods has been recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, though he looked healthy during an appearance with Jimmy Fallon last week. He plans to return to competition next week in Japan. On Monday, 10/20, he’ll play in a skins game alongside Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day. Later that week, he’ll tee it up in the first-ever Zozo Championship, which will also mark his PGA Tour season debut. Then it’s decision time.
“So, honestly, I think it’s smart that he waits that long,” said LaCava, who added that he hopes Woods chooses himself. “You want the hot players and you want the guys who are playing well at the time.”
Woods is also currently listed to play at his own event, the Hero World Challenge, in the week preceding the Presidents Cup. Apart from World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, every U.S. Team member will be in attendance, plus Finau, Reed, Woodland, Fowler, Watson and Kevin Kisner.
Here are the eight Americans who qualified on points: