Tiger Woods honored by captain's pick

Updated: August 31, 2011, 7:47 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

VERONA, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods said he is "honored" to be a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team and indicated he believes he belongs on the squad despite his recent struggles.

"They wanted me on the team and I'm honored to be part of the team," Woods said. "It's a wonderful mix of younger guys and older veterans. I'm excited to get down there and play."

Woods nodded in the affirmative Wednesday when asked if he believed he deserved a spot despite being well down the rankings and unable to improve his position.

U.S. captain Fred Couples disclosed last week that he's already told the 14-time major champion that he will pick him to be part of the 12-man squad that will compete in match play against an international team at Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club in November.

"He's the captain; it's his prerogative who he picks," Woods said before teeing off in a charity event on behalf of his friend, Notah Begay III.

Woods went 5-0 in the Presidents Cup two years ago at Harding Park in San Francisco and was 3-1 at last year's Ryder Cup in Wales.

But he's played just six competitive rounds since tying for fourth at the Masters and is coming off a missed cut at the PGA Championship, where he was 10 over through 36 holes. Woods failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which continue this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and is unable to earn more points to make the Presidents Cup team on his own.

That's why Woods has added the Frys.com Open in early October to his schedule.

"I haven't played," said Woods, who is going on two years since posting his last PGA Tour victory, his 71st, at the 2009 BMW Championship. "Fred wanted me on the Presidents Cup and he wanted me to play. I was playing the week prior (at the Australian Open), but I wanted to play prior to that. I wanted to test what (coach) Sean (Foley) and I have been working on.

"The Frys fit perfectly into my schedule. I also said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to play an event I've never played before. I told that to our commissioner (Tim Finchem). That's what I'm doing. It'll be fun."

Woods was at Atunyote Golf Club at Turning Stone on Wednesday as part of the Notah Begay Foundation Challenge, a one-day event featuring eight players. The event was originally scheduled for July 5 but was pushed back due to the knee and Achilles injuries that kept Woods from competing until the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in early August.

Begay is a four-time PGA Tour winner and former teammate of Woods' when they were at Stanford.

"He's been the world to me," Woods said of Begay. "He's been like a big brother."

Woods was paired with LPGA star Suzann Pettersen in the mixed-team best ball format. Others in the competition are tour players Begay, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan, along with LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis. Begay's foundation supports Native American youth.

The event was an opportunity to see Woods' evolving game on display, even if there were few stakes and Woods pledged any prize money to Begay's foundation.

Since the Masters, Woods has played in just three tournaments because of the injuries he said he suffered during the third round at Augusta National. He withdrew after just nine holes of The Players Championship, then missed both the U.S. Open and British Open.

He did not return until the Bridgestone, where he tied for 37th. A week later, at the PGA Championship outside of Atlanta, Woods missed the cut for just the third time in a major.

Because he elected not to play the following week in Greensboro, N.C., Woods did not qualify for the four-tournament PGA Tour playoff run that concludes Sept. 25 with the Tour Championship.

The following day, Couples is to make his two captain's selections, although he has now limited himself to just one.

Mahan, who is ninth in the standings, and Fowler, who is 13th, both suggested it's up to them to make the team on their own and not worry about being picked. Jim Furyk, who has played on every U.S. Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team dating to 1997, is 11th in the standings, and only the top 10 through the BMW Championship are assured a spot.

Woods is 29th in the standings and well behind PGA champion Keegan Bradley, a two-time winner this year who also is not assured of a spot.

"It's pretty log-jammed up there," Mahan said. "We've got two weeks to prove ourselves. It's the FedEx playoff time. We have to keep it pretty simple here and remember that we're still playing golf. Just have to go out there and do it right now."

Woods is also in danger of missing a spot in his own tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, two weeks after the Presidents Cup. Because the tournament offers world ranking points, the players are required to be among the top 50 in the world at a Sept. 19 cutoff point. Woods is currently ranked 38th.

Bob Harig is a golf writer for ESPN.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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