In Bahamas, Tiger Woods goes through a dress rehearsal

V Krishnaswamy Albany | Updated on December 04, 2019

Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge, in the Bahamas

Tiger Woods is getting some dress rehearsals in the matter of donning two hats. This week at the Hero World Challenge, in the Bahamas, he doubles up as the Host and a prime contender for a title he has won five times, but not since 2011.

While he has been performing that dual role for many years, the one he gets into next week at the President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia was something that “began as a joke”, he said on the eve of the Hero World Challenge.

“When I took the job as captain, I jokingly said I’d like to be a playing captain,” he said. “It was a joke but it turned into reality, and here we are, the second playing captain in the history of the President’s Cup.”

‘Not an easy job’

He added, “And the role’s not easy. There are a lot of moving parts, whether it’s talking to the guys, talking to my vice-captains, organising what we need to have done down there, to be ready but also I need to keep sharp. I need to keep practicing, and keep working on my game. I need to make sure my game is sharp and ready to go, because at minimum next week I’ll be responsible for two points.”

When Tiger Woods decides on some things, they begin to fall in place. Else, he ensures that they do. Eleven of the 12 members of the US President’s Cup team are here in the Bahamas. In-person team meetings will be a whole lot easier earlier than scheduled. Only Dustin Johnson, giving his left knee some more rest, will need to make a con-call.

Five of the nine pairings are what we could see next week in Australia, but Woods told us not to read too much into it. Woods is paired with Justin Thomas. Only Matt Kuchar does not get to play with a teammate, and goes in with Chez Reavie, a late replacement for the missing Johnson.

Woods said, “It’s great that the guys were able to come here and play. It’s a busy two weeks for those here. So, just to have the guys be able to compete and play and shake off a little bit of rust if they have any. Just be in the competitive flow for two weeks, it’s fantastic.”

Despite the Woods and the US-centric discussions, Spaniard Jon Rahm, who always draws comparison to his legendary countryman, Seve Ballesteros, is also attracting a lot of attention.

A daunting opponent

Having already won three times 2019, Rahm is now attempting to join Woods as the only other player to win HWC back-to-back. Rahm is also trying to repeat a win in US for the first time – a feat he has achieved three times in Europe. His three wins in Europe in 2019 were at events he had won in either 2017 or 2018.

He comes over as the European No. 1 and after ensuring a $-5 million payout from Dubai’s DP World success, he is in the casino city seeking to add another million ahead of his marriage in Bilbao next week.

Having won on each of his last two starts in Spain and in Dubai, he is on a hat-trick. He claimed he will not get distracted by his upcoming marriage.

“Its not like my mind’s going to wander. I’m focussing on this week, I want to defend and I want to finish the year strong. Nothing better than finishing with three in a row so my mind’s on this week so once it’s over I’ll focus on that (marriage).”

Others trying to add a sweetener to Christmas celebrations at the HWC and build on that momentum going into 2020 include Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose.

Published on December 04, 2019

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