Vice-captain Fred Couples aims to make sure Tiger Woods will be at his best for the Ryder Cup
IT WOULD be stretching the point to suggest Davis Love has picked Fred Couples as one of his assistant captains for this year’s Ryder Cup in order to get the best out of one player.
Couples, after all, has led the Americans to back-to-back wins in the Presidents Cup and has struck up useful relationships with every player likely to be on the home team at Medinah in September. Yet, after hearing the 52-year-old talk about Tiger Woods on the eve of his debut in the Senior Open Championship, there’s no doubt that he could be the man to help bring the best out of him on that stage.
It was Couples who handed Woods a wild card for last year’s Presidents Cup win in Melbourne, where the 14-time major champion repaid his captain by recording a crucial last-day singles victory. He also expects Woods, who sits at the top of the US points table so won’t be needing a pick from Love, to be a leading light as the Americans bid to win back the Ryder Cup.
“When I came to choose Tiger as a pick, I asked him to do a couple of things and he did them,” said Couples. “He played in Australia and he played in a tournament in San Jose.
“I have a lot of respect for him and I think he had a lot of respect for me choosing him and helping him in being ready to play at Royal Melbourne.
“Now the Ryder Cup is coming round and he’s going to be one of our best players again. I’m not saying he’s going to win every match, but there’s no reason to worry about Tiger. He’s an easy guy to handle and be around, he really is.”
Couples picked Woods for the Presidents Cup at a time when the former world No 1 was trying to rebuild his life after it had fallen apart following a string of extra marital affairs.
“Personally, it makes no difference to me that I read stuff is right or wrong,” he added. “You’d be an idiot to say what happened to him wasn’t something that he’s regretted.
“I don’t talk to him about that; I talk to him about golf. I tell him how great he’s playing, how much fun it is to see him win again. When he wasn’t playing well, I was teasing him by saying, ‘your swing looks terrible, when is it going to improve?’ My next goal is to be with him in the Ryder Cup and to have him play well and have a good time.”
Love has spoken about his hopes of still qualifying for the US team in September, admitting he’d hand over the reins to Couples if that transpires. Couples, though, will still be perfectly happy if he remains as one of the home captain’s right-hand men.
“I never thought I’d be Ryder Cup captain, so this is the next best thing,” he said. “I have been a captain for almost all of these guys that will be on the team. I know them fairly well and understand what they are like.”
“Sometimes you need to get a player in a corner for him to tell you something he might not tell you in front of the team. You keep that at the back of your mind and maybe later in the week you might pair a guy with somebody that he feels he can win a point with.”
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