Presidents Cup and PGA TOUR officials announced Ernie Els and Tiger Woods as captains of the International and U.S. Teams, respectively, for the 2019 Presidents Cup at The Royal Melbourne Golf Course in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. While both will be first-time captains at the event, the two are the most experienced captains in terms of Presidents Cup competition and were the primary figures in the 2003 event held in South Africa, where Woods and Els competed in a dramatic sudden-death playoff that ultimately ended in a tie and the two teams sharing the Cup.
Els has competed in the Presidents Cup eight times (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), tied for most by an International Team member. Woods, also an eight-time U.S. Presidents Cup Team member (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), holed the winning putt for the United States in 2009, 2011 and 2013 – the only player to clinch the Cup three times. Both Woods and Els served as captain’s assistants for their respective teams in 2017.
“Ernie Els and Tiger Woods have each been part of the fabric of the Presidents Cup as competitors and as ambassadors to the event,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Ernie carries the flag for international golf as a legendary figure both on and off the golf course, while Tiger has been one of the most transcendent athletes the sport has ever seen. These two have served, and will continue to serve, as a bridge between past team members and captains who laid the foundation for the Presidents Cup and the stars of today who are embracing the hallmarks of the event – golf on a global stage, a love and passion for the game and the impact the Presidents Cup has in emerging markets and through charity.”
In addition to the announcement of the two captains, officials also unveiled minor changes to format requirements and eligibility for the 2019 Presidents Cup. Each player shall play a minimum of one match prior to the final-round singles matches. This is a change from past years where players were required to play twice during the same timeframe. Additionally, the top eight players for the International and U.S. Team standings will officially qualify following the completion of the 2019 TOUR Championship. Captains will later select four captains’ picks (at date to be determined) closer to the December 2019 event.
Els and Woods have combined for 97 PGA TOUR victories, including 20 World Golf Championships events and 18 major championship titles, with 59 additional wins internationally. Following the completion of the 34 matches at the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa, the score was tied at 17, which meant a sudden-death playoff between Els and Woods as selected by then-captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. With sunlight fading, both players made pars on the first playoff hole. With Woods in for par on the second playoff hole, Els knocked in his 12-footer to halve. The two again traded dramatic par putts on the third playoff hole with darkness upon them. It was then decided to end the competition and declare the event a tie.
Ernie Els – Els is tied with Vijay Singh and Adam Scott with eight appearances in the event with an overall record of 20-18-2. He is tied for most all-time match appearances on the International Team in Presidents Cup history (40, Vijay Singh) and has won more matches than any other International Team member (20). The World Golf Hall of Fame member has 19 career PGA TOUR victories to his credit, including four major championships between the U.S. Open (1994, 1997) and The Open Championship (2002, 2012). The former world No. 1 and native South African has also made his mark internationally with 47 total victories spread across the European Tour and South African Tour, representing South Africa five times in the World Cup (1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2001) as well as nine times in the Alfred Dunhill Cup (1992-2000).
Els will be the sixth person to serve as a captain for the International Team (Nick Price – 2017, 2015, 2013; Greg Norman – 2011, 2009; Gary Player – 2007, 2005, 2003; Peter Thomson– 2000, 1998, 1996; David Graham – 1994).
“The Presidents Cup has provided me with many of the best memories of my career,” said Els. “To be named captain of the team is an incredible honor. There is a fun and talented group of young players emerging from all across the globe for the International Team, and I am eager to accept the responsibility of building a winner when we face the United States at one of my favorite courses and cities in the world at Royal Melbourne. Tiger and I have had some great duels in the past, and I look forward to the challenge of going against my longtime friend yet again in 2019.”
Tiger Woods – Woods has a Presidents Cup record of 24-15-1 since his first appearance on the 1998 U.S. Team, and he is one of five players to go 5-0-0 during a single event (2009). His 24 matches won ranks second all-time to Phil Mickelson’s 26, and his six victories in singles matches is the most in the event’s history.
Woods will be the eighth player to captain the U.S. Team (Steve Stricker – 2017; Jay Haas – 2015; Fred Couples – 2013, 2011, 2009; Jack Nicklaus – 2007, 2005, 2003, 1998; Ken Venturi – 2000; Arnold Palmer – 1996; Hale Irwin – 1994).
“After working as a captain’s assistant for Steve in 2017, I realized that I wanted to captain the 2019 event at Royal Melbourne,” said Woods. “I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of past captains like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Ken Venturi, Fred Couples, Jay Haas and Steve Stricker. The core group of players on the U.S. Team have a lot of talent, enthusiasm and great team camaraderie. They are easy-going and fun to be around off the course, but extremely competitive inside the ropes. I have no doubt that Ernie will have the International Team ready to go in Melbourne, and I cannot think of a more fitting captain to carry the tradition of goodwill through competition than Ernie Els. The Sandbelt courses of Australia are some of my favorite in the world, and I’m looking forward to seeing Royal Melbourne again.”
The 2019 Presidents Cup will be held December 9-15, 2019, when it returns to the prestigious Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The return to Melbourne, Australia, will mark the third time in the biennial event’s 25-year history it has been held at the renowned Sandbelt course, as the event was previously held in Melbourne in 1998 and 2011, also at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Melbourne also holds the distinction as the site of the lone International Team’s victory in 1998, which saw Peter Thomson’s International Team defeat Jack Nicklaus’ U.S. Team, 20.5 to 11.5. In 2011, Fred Couples led the U.S. Team to a 19-15 win over Greg Norman and the Internationals. The 1998 event was also held in December, a date that traditionally works well with other golf tournaments held in Australia.
The oldest golf club in Australia, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club was founded in 1891 and moved to its current location in 1926, becoming the anchor of what is now known as the Sandbelt. The gem of Australian golf, The Royal Melbourne Golf Club has two courses, both ranked in the World’s Top 100, which were designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie. In 1959, in order to host the first of many international tournaments, 12 holes of the West Course and six from the East Course were combined to create what is known as the Composite Course, which also hosted the 2013 World Cup of Golf, won by Jason Day and Adam Scott.
The Presidents Cup is unique in that there is no purse or prize money. Players are not paid for their participation, but each competitor allocates an equal portion of the funds generated to charities of his choice. Since the event’s inception, more than $49.1 million has been raised for charity from event proceeds, as well as contributions made on behalf of the Presidents Cup, including a record charitable donation of $10.7 million from the 2017 event alone.
The Presidents Cup competition consists of 30 matches – 9 Foursomes (alternate shot) and 9 Four-ball (better ball) matches. There are 12 Singles matches involving all players on the final Sunday. All matches are worth one point each, for a total of 30 points. There are no playoffs for Foursomes or Four-ball, with each side receiving ½ point if the match finishes all-square after 18 holes. Singles matches all square after 18 holes will go to extra holes until a team winner is determined. In a change inspired by the events of the 2003 Presidents Cup, if the match is deadlocked at the end of Singles play, the competition will be deemed a tie and the teams will share The Presidents Cup.