Tiger Woods leapfrogs Presidents Cup standings

Pic By AFP

In arguably one of the greatest comeback in sports history, 2019 US Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods secured his 81st career PGA TOUR title, with a one-shot victory at The Masters Tournament for his 15th major championship title and first since 2008.

The victory elevated Woods from No 17 to No 9 in the US Team standings as he looks to become the second-ever playing captain and first since Hale Irwin in 1994.

The Presidents Cup will return to Melbourne, Australia, and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club for the third time from Dec 9-15, 2019, when the International Team, led by captain Ernie Els, will take on the US Team. Woods, an eight-time Presidents Cup participant, owns an overall Presidents Cup record of 24-15-1 and has the second-most match victories in Presidents Cup history behind Phil Mickelson (26). At Royal Melbourne in 2011, Woods posted a 2-3 record and secured the winning point with a 4-and-3 victory over Aaron Baddeley.

If Woods goes on to earn a spot on the 2019 team, it will mark his first competitive performance in a Presidents Cup since 2013, where he also secured the winning point at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

Woods was one of six US players to finish T5 or better at Augusta National, with each player currently no lower than 12th in the US Presidents Cup standings. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele all finished T2, while Webb Simpson and Tony Finau finished T5.

Johnson reclaimed the top spot in the standings from Justin Thomas (T12) and Koepka jumped two spots to No 4.

Elsewhere in the top 10 at The Masters, Rickie Fowler and first-time hopeful Patrick Cantlay both finished T9 and sit at No 7 and No 13 respectively in the standings.

Marc Leishman still leads the International Team standings and is one of four Australians inside the top 10. Jason Day moved two spots in the standings to No 6 and improved his position as one of the top eight automatic qualifiers.

Day’s T5 at Augusta National came after he held a share of the 36-hole lead with four others, including fellow Aussie Adam Scott, who jumped three spots to No 10 with an eventual T18 finish. Cameron Smith remains inside the top 10 at No 4.

Another bright spot for the International Team came from South African Justin Harding, who finished a respectable T12 after birdieing the 72nd hole to remain at No 7 in the standings. At 33 years old, Harding is in search of his first Presidents Cup appearance.

But the Presidents Cup hopeful who has made the most noise of late is Canada’s Corey Conners, who became the first player since 2010 to win on the PGA Tour after Monday’s qualifying when he captured the Valero Texas Open for his maiden PGA Tour title.

The win vaulted Conners from No 39 to No 10 in the International Team standings as the former US Amateur runner-up looks to join captain’s assistant Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin as Canadians to compete in the Presidents Cup.

Captain Els will have the chance to see Conners competing up close this week when he is paired with him and Hadwin for the first two rounds of the RBC Heritage.