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Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:08 am

EDISON, N.J. -- Corey Pavin, wherever you are, accept this belated olive branch.

Like many, I spent the latter half of 2010 having a field day with your captaincy of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, belittling the sieves that passed as team raingear in Wales, poking fun at your colorless quotes, making cracks about your height, questioning whether your wife was actually running the show.

There's only one thing left to say after the developments of the past few hours: Bring back captain Corey, because the guy steering the Presidents Cup team is steering the team headed toward the Great Barrier Reef.

U.S. captain Fred Couples, in a remarkable admission, said Thursday night in Seattle that he has already told Tiger Woods that he's assured one of the two captain's picks, even though Woods' season has been punctuated by missteps, missed cuts and missed fairways.

Couples is having none of it. Or all of it, whichever way you hook or slice it.

"In my opinion, when you’re the best player in the world for 12 straight years and you’re not on a team, there’s something wrong," Couples said.

That's the crux of the critical blowback here. Woods was indeed the best player on the planet for 12 years. Problem is, we're in Year 14 now.

“I don’t know how you can criticize someone for choosing Tiger Woods," Couples said. "If he goes there and doesn’t play well, I would be shocked."

Hopefully, Couples doesn’t scare easily, or he could be in for some fainting spells when the matches begin in Australia, based on the way Woods has played in 2011. Perhaps Couples missed the parts at the PGA Championship where Woods missed the cut, hit balls in 22 bunkers, and hit a 20-foot putt so fat, it came up six feet short of the hole.

Woods hasn’t won in 23 months in the States and others have blown past him so fast, he has plummeted from second to 36th in the world, a spiral that will continue because he is ineligible to play for four weeks and his last PGA Tour win is about to fall off his two-year ranking period.

Couples sounds about as stable as Captain Queeg, rolling around two ball bearings in his hand and trying to figure out who swiped the strawberry ice cream.

This call is wrong for so many reasons, it's nothing short of astounding. Let's list a few.

At No. 11 in points is Jim Furyk, who has had a forgettable season on the whole. But Furyk is the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, a guy who won the FedEx Cup last year after finishing with three wins. Furyk, unlike Woods, has shown far more recent signs of life, including T9 last week.

Keegan Bradley not only isn’t on the team, he's 18th in points despite two victories in his rookie season. Phil Mickelson noted this week that Bradley is the perceived front-runner for tour player of the year, opined that Bradley ought to be the first player named as a captain's pick. Oops. Mickelson and Bradley are represented by the same management firm, so there's a bias here, but Mickelson's got a point. No other American won a major this year. Woods hasn’t won a major since mid-2008.

Even though Bradley, now No. 18 in points, was unable to amass a single Presidents Cup point last year, he is 10 spots ahead of Woods in the standings. Woods is 28th and sandwiched between immortals Kevin Na and D.A. Points.

Couples, a guy who will never be confused for Vijay Singh for his work ethic, is taking the easy way out. The captain's picks are not set to be finalized for four more weeks, until after the Tour Championship in Atlanta. What, he didn’t want to face questions for a month about his two at-large options?

Even for those who believe Woods deserves a pick, there is absolutely no defensible reason to announce the selection a month early. Too many other players who play well over the next month could get left at the curb as they angle for the last remaining spot.

The doltish Couples move certainly underscores the fact that the Presidents Cup is an exhibition, and not held in nearly the same esteem as the Transatlantic swordfight called the Ryder Cup. Making the pick now makes the PrezCup, a thinly veiled Ryder knockoff, look even more farcical.

Think the PGA Tour, which invented and runs the Presidents Cup, wasn't giggling in the hallways when their savant captain tabbed Tiger on Thursday? Moments after Couples told reporters in Seattle that Woods was already a lock, the tour sent out Couples' comments in a blast email, cementing the deal and trumpeting to all the world that Tiger was on the team.

Twelve years ago, after watching a couple of balls take cruel bounces at the 1999 U.S. Open, David Duval stoically answered a question about the caprices that had just cost him the title. "There is no such thing as 'deserves,'" he said. Well, looks like he was wrong. In a game known as the ultimate meritocracy, Woods was grandfathered in based on his resume from two years ago. If he handed any employer a resume with a gap that large in is performance history, the boss would say, "so, what's the deal with the last two years?"

If Woods wanted to earn a spot on the team the right way, he should have played last week in Greensboro, his last chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which began this week at The Barclays. He was outside the top 125 positions required to make the FedEx series, tied in with rookie Will McGirt, who not only played well enough at Greensboro to get in the series, he was an overnight co-leader at The Barclays on Thursday night. Woods didn’t play. He said he had family commitments. Then he participated in a corporate PR stunt for EA Sports last Tuesday, sending a nice message of indifference while others were trying to grind their way into the FedEx picture.

Couples is so out of touch with affairs on the tour, he was unaware that Woods had not qualified to play in the FedEx series, and told him he wants him to add another tournament before heading to Australia to play in the Aussie Open (where he will receive an appearance fee) and Presidents Cup. Couples didn’t even wait to see whether Woods followed through and signed up for a Fall Series event before picking him. The Australian Open is Nov. 10-13 outside Sydney and the cup matches follow the next week.

Couples' assistant captain is Jay Haas, whose son Bill is 10th in Presidents Cup points at the moment. Guess who gets bumped if anybody makes the slightest move over the next four weeks and displaces him from the automatic-pick perch in the top 10? Right. Haas would then need to be picked to make the team. Awkward.

Plenty have compared Couples' decision to pick the skidding Woods as comparable to International team captain Greg Norman's decision to tab Adam Scott two years ago. Scott was in a months-long slump, and Norman figured being on the team might give the young Aussie a lift. What people forget is that Scott finished 1-4, however.

Picking Woods is akin to juggling dynamite. Couples, especially has ensured that a decent faction of Americans will be pulling against the U.S. team. 

Nice call, captain America.


Since: Aug 26, 2011
Posted on: August 26, 2011 12:19 pm

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Couples is an accomplished golf professional and has earned the right to pick who he wants as the team captain. What has Elling ever accomplished? He certainly hasn't earned the right to criticize others on their career choices. Stick to reporting on facts. Your opinion carries no weight at all.

Since: Feb 14, 2008
Posted on: August 26, 2011 12:09 pm

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Tiger doesnt deserve to be on the U.S. team but it was obvious that he was going to be a Captain's Pick.  This was done for the TV ratings.  People are going to tune in and watch to see what Tiger does and it will increase news media attention from the press.  Its like people coming out to watch Willie Mays play for the New York Mets in his final year.  You know its wrong, you know that he is playing horrid, but you still have to watch just to see what may happen, good or bad.

Since: Jun 29, 2011
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:59 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Did any of you see this coming? I did. Is it wrong? Of course it is. I know some of you Tiger lovers can't wait until he returns to form on the Tour. It certainly will be good for golf no doubt - The young guns vs the proven royalty of the game. Now is his game there? Not from any evidence of his past few performances. I also know some of you Tiger haters think this is an outrage and that Couples should be tarred and feathered for this decision. I wouldn't go that far but Tiger on the team obviously knocks off someone more deserving given the present talents of American golfers.

Look at it this way. This is the path of least resistance. What could Captain Freddie do? Money and sponsors are a critical part of the decision, you can bet on it. Then there is a genuine friendship between Couples and Woods. Afterall, who suffers? Probably just one young not defined golfer that has many President Cups ahead in his future. Tiger does have a legacy. It can be construed as an honorable thing. I and apparently Elling believe it is just the opposite. That's politics.

I hope Tiger plays well and the Americans win. I wouldn't bet on it, at least the first part of that sentence.

Since: Feb 7, 2010
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:42 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

I really love it when Elling and all the other Tiger haters whine and moan...hahaha. You guys want another tissue!

Since: Apr 23, 2008
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:42 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Elling is spot on: Couples is a douche bag for picking Tiger.  It is INDEFENSIBLE.  Woods, right now, is not CLOSE to being the "best player in the world ever" or however Couples worded it, sounding like an OMG valley girl. Hey Freddy, are you getting a piece of the Presidents Cup retail sales or something? What happens if Bradley wins another tournament and say, Fowler wins two and the FedEx Cup?  Which one you going to leave off Fred?

Since: Apr 21, 2009
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:25 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

i might start to gain respect for TW if he declines. 

Since: Dec 6, 2008
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:21 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Right on. Tiger should show the character all to often missing and decline the spot. It is time he started making some good decisions rather than continuing down the wrong road.

Since: Nov 9, 2008
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:03 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Tiger (2 years ago) was the best player in the world however he's not even in the same league with the guys on the Nationwide Tour right now and that's just a fact. I'm not a Tiger hater like many on this site... but while I am a huge Fred Couples fan... he just flat got this one wrong.  

Since: Jun 24, 2010
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:00 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

Elling must not be on the approved Tiger interview list because he is constantly "grinding on that ax" with Tiger.  These formats are about birdies and Tiger did make 8 of them in 2 rounds at the PGA.  He just couldn't stay out of the bunkers on the other holes.  I think he gets the benefit of doubt this year, but next year would be a different story.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:58 am

Couples call on Tiger wrong for a hundred reasons

i'm a big Tiger fan, but he should decline the spot. his game is not deserving to be on the team this year. man up Tiger and decline. why go out there and embarrass yourself?

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