(Reuters) – Tiger Woods, who plans to make his PGA Tour return next week after more than a year on the sidelines, has been appointed as one of three vice-captains to U.S. skipper Steve Stricker for next year’s Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
Woods will join Fred Couples and triumphant U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III as assistants for the biennial team competition against the Internationals to be played at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City from Sept. 28-Oct. 1.
“It’s just a tremendous honor,” Woods, who has paired up successfully with his longtime friend Stricker in the past at both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, said in a statement on Wednesday after being formally appointed.
“We’ve been friends for close to 20 years now, and we’ve been on teams together … so for him to have the confidence in me, to be part of the crew and help him in any way I possibly can – I’m thrilled to be his assistant.”
Former world number one Woods, who got his first taste as a vice-captain during last week’s Ryder Cup in Minnesota where the United States beat Europe 17-11, could still play his way on to the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
“If that happens, replacing him as a captain’s assistant will be a great problem for me to have,” said Stricker. “But if he doesn’t, I’m honored he accepted this role for the first time in his impressive Presidents Cup career.
“Tiger has been a great team mate and friend over the years, and I know the U.S. guys will benefit from the experience and camaraderie that only Tiger can bring.”
Woods, who has not played competitive golf since the Wyndham Championship in late August 2015 while recovering from multiple back surgeries, intends to make his PGA Tour comeback at next week’s Safeway Open in Napa, California.
In other Presidents Cup announcements on Wednesday, Internationals captain Nick Price appointed fellow Zimbabwean Tony Johnstone, South African Ernie Els and Australian Geoff Ogilvy as his assistants.
The United States have won the Presidents Cup nine times in its 11 editions, most recently by 15-1/2 points to 14-1/2 in South Korea last year.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)