There was plenty of anticipation for Tiger Woods’ decisions as a playing-captain at the Presidents Cup, and without wasting much time he’s already made a statement. Woods paired himself with Justin Thomas in the first group out for the United States team in Australia.

Woods initially deferred the decision to his counterpart Ernie Els, who chose Marc Leishman to go out with Presidents Cup rookie Joaquin Niemann. Woods looked to his vice captains — Steve Stricker, Fred Couples and Zach Johnson — with a sense of “why not?” None of them stopped him.

With a smile, Woods turned back to the microphone and said four words: “Justin Thomas. Tiger Woods.”

And that was that. Woods will play with his Jupiter buddy, a pair that was long rumored as an option, against one of the International team’s best in Leishman and its youngest in Niemann. Thomas and Woods are both ranked in the world top 10 at the moment, while neither Leishman nor Niemann crack the top 25.

When asked afterward about his decision, Woods put it plainly, “It was important for me to get out there as a player.”



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