Tiger Woods to cross swords with Ernie Els

Tiger Woods plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 8, 2018 in Palm Harbor.
Tiger Woods plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 8, 2018 in Palm Harbor.
Image: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Ernie Els and Tiger Woods have battled each other numerous times over the past 20 years and next year they will again cross swords‚ but as captains of the International and US teams at the 13th President’s Cup in Melbourne.

US PGA commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed their appointments for next year’s battle at the Royal Melbourne Golf Course late on Tuesday.

Els and Woods share a great personal rivalry‚ and although they were seldom locked in a two-way duel for important titles‚ they did share one of the most dramatic President’s Cup moments ever.

The pair played what is the only every play-off to decide the winner‚ at Fancourt‚ in 2003.

The US and Internationals were locked at 17-17 after all the matches were complete.

In the Ryder Cup‚ the pre-eminent golfing team event played between the US and Europe‚ if the matches are tied the defending champions retain the title.

The President’s Cup changed the format to ensure there was always an outright winner if score were deadlocked.

As a result of the rules‚ Els and Woods went out to play a sudden death play-off to determine the winner.

The only problem was that daylight was already fading when the 12th singles match between Robert Allenby (Australia) and Davis Love III was halved on the 18th.

The play-off started in rapidly approaching twilight and by the time Woods and Els had halved the fiendishly difficult par-three second hole (their third play-off hole) in par‚ there wasn’t enough daylight to continue.

Most of the American team‚ and several PGA top brass‚ had their personal jets fuelled up and ready to fly out of George on the Southern Cape coast that Sunday evening. Coming back for a Monday finish was unthinkable.

Despite the International players wanting a Monday finish‚ captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus decided to call the match a draw‚ allowing the US to retain the Cup.

Els and Woods will forever be linked in President’s Cup folklore because of that match. It’s often forgotten that they were paired in the Sunday singles earlier that dusty‚ hot George afternoon and Woods prevailed 4&3.

The pair‚ with 18 majors between them (14 to Woods‚ four to Els) and 156 worldwide wins‚ are also the most experienced President’s Cup players to captain the teams.

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.

“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 honour.

"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 long time friend yet again in 2019.”

Woods said: “After working as a captain’s assistant for Steve in 2017‚ I realised that I wanted to captain the 2019 event at Royal Melbourne.

“The core group of players on the US 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.”

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