Golf Roundup: Tiger Woods, Ernie Els agrees to be Presidents Cup captains

(PhatzRadio Sports / AP)    —    Tiger Woods and Ernie Els will duel in the Presidents Cup again, this time as captains.

Woods and Els have agreed to be captains for the 2019 matches in Melbourne, Australia, according to two people involved in the Presidents Cup. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the captain selections have not been announced.

They are expected to be introduced Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational near Orlando, Florida.

Woods has been heavily involved in team event while not playing in recent years because of back injuries. He was an assistant to Steve Stricker in the Presidents Cup last year, and he already has agreed to be a vice captain at the Ryder Cup this fall in France for the second straight time.

The development first was reported by the blog Morning Read.

The Presidents Cup, which began in 1994 and was patterned after the Ryder Cup to give international players from outside Europe a chance to compete, has been one-sided since the start. The International team’s only victory was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.

Els was the logical choice to be the next International captain, following three stints by Nick Price. One person with knowledge of the decision said Woods reached out to the PGA Tour about his interest in being the next captain.

Woods and Els are certain to inject some life into the matches, from their own relationship and history, and from the most intense moment in Presidents Cup history.

The 2003 matches ended in a tie at 17 at Fancourt in South Africa, the home country of Els. The rules then were for a player from each team to have his name placed in an envelope, and they would play sudden-death to decide the Presidents Cup.

Els and Woods matched par on the first extra hole. Els had to make a 12-foot par putt on the next hole to extend the playoff. In gathering darkness that made it difficult to read putts, Woods holed a double-breaking, 15-foot par putt on the third extra hole. Els had to make from 6 feet to match him.

When it was too dark to continue, and both teams on the green were debating what to do, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player agreed to share the cup.

Woods referred to it at the time as one of his most nerve-wracking moments. Els said it was the first time he felt his legs shake over a putt.

They also have battled plenty in tournaments. Els has been runner-up to Woods seven times, more than any other player. That includes twice in the majors, though Woods won those by 15 shots (2000 U.S. Open) and eight shots (2000 British Open).

In 1998 in Thailand, Woods rallied from an eight-shot deficit in the final round and beating Els in a playoff. A month later at Bay Hill, Els was two shots behind Woods and Love going into a 36-hole Sunday because of rain, and he beat Woods by 10 shots (and Love by 11) to win.

Off the course, Els is the player Woods sought out in the 1996 British Open when he was trying to decide whether to turn pro.

The 2019 matches will be Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne, the latest the Presidents Cup has been played. The Presidents Cup has been reduced to 30 matches over four days, and the format is not likely to change for the next one.

Woods was runner-up at the Valspar Championship on Sunday and plays at Bay Hill this week, where he is an eight-time winner. Hale Irwin is the only playing captain in the Presidents Cup, at the inaugural matches in 1994.



Golf now has a modern set of rules for the Royal & Ancient game, an extensive overhaul that took six years and is aimed at making the rules easier to understand.

The R&A and USGA announced the final version of modernized rules on Monday. They take effect in 2019.

“This was out of recognition that in trying to make the rules more fair, they became too complicated,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status. “With 30-plus years of tinkering, they got complicated, and that wasn’t good for the game.”

Among the changes will be how to take penalty drops — from knee-high length starting next year, instead of from shoulder height. There no longer will be penalties if a golf ball accidentally moves on the green, if a club touches the ground in a hazard or if the ball hits a flagstick that is not being tended on the green.

Also, caddies can no longer line up their players while they are setting up over a shot.

This is the most comprehensive change to the rules since the first set was published in 1744, only in this case, the book got smaller. There now are 24 rules instead of 34, and “The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf” replaces about 1,300 examples in the Decisions book.

“With revised rules being easier to understand, we think committees will be able to reach the right conclusion without having 1,300 fact sets,” Pagel said.

The modernization project began with a meeting at St. Andrews in April 2012 among the R&A, USGA, PGA Tour and European Tour. They introduced a proposed draft a year ago and during six months of public feedback received some 30,000 comments from 102 countries through surveys, social media and phone calls.

The original proposal was for players to drop the ball 2 inches from the ground. Pagel said there were concerns that it was too close to the ground. The idea was to get the ball back in play, and knee-high length was determined to keep the ball from bouncing away from the right area and keep some randomness to how it lies.

One rule is only for recreational golf. Starting next year, a local rule will let golfers simply drop a ball that goes out-of-bounds in the vicinity of where it went out — even if that means the fairway — with an additional two-shot penalty.

That was done for pace of play and will not be applied in professional golf and other elite competitions.

Other changes include:

— Eliminating penalties for accidentally moving a ball in the green or while searching for a lost ball.

— Players will have only three minutes to search for a lost ball instead of five minutes.

— Players now can repair spike marks or shoe prints on the putting green. Some players expressed concern that this might slow the pace if players spent too much time grooming the putting surface. Pagel said pace-of-play policies would keep that from happening, and it was a rule change that was needed for competition. No one wants to see a tournament decided by a spike mark in the line of a putt.

“It’s the skill we’re testing,” he said. “We’re not testing whether you can navigate around a shoe print. Really it allows for great equity across the field.”

— Eliminating the penalty for removing loose impediments in a bunker and the general touching of sand with the hand or club (without grounding the club next to the ball). Also, players can declare a ball to be unplayable in a bunker, take a two-shot penalty and play from outside the bunker.

The modern rules are available at or at .

The tours are likely to provide training packages or seminars to get players up to speed before the new rules go into effect next year.

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