Golf: Couples, Stricker and Johnson to assist Woods at Presidents Cup

(Reuters) - United States captain Tiger Woods has appointed Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker as three of his captain’s assistants for this year’s Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour announced on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. golfer Tiger Woods talks with team captain Fred Couples (L) during the first practice round for the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Woods still has the option to name one final assistant for the Dec. 12-15 event at Royal Melbourne in Australia, where the biennial competition pits a 12-man team from the United States against a lineup of international players from outside Europe.

Couples is a four-times Presidents Cup participant who has also led the U.S. team as captain on three consecutive occasions (2009, 2011, 2013) and has served as a captain’s assistant in the last two editions of the event.

“Freddie and I go way back in the Presidents Cup,” Woods said in a statement. “And we’re basically coming full circle at Royal Melbourne. He and I teamed up in one of our matches in ‘98, I was a captain’s pick in ‘11 and now we get to return there as two leaders of this team.

“We’re going to have some fun, but we’re there to win.”

Stricker, who captained the victorious 2017 U.S. team at Liberty National where Woods served as one of his assistants, will be making his second stint as a captain’s assistant.

A five-times Presidents Cup competitor (1996, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), Stricker boasts a 14-10 record and finished with a 2-2 record the last time the Presidents Cup was played at Royal Melbourne in 2011.

“I can’t say enough about the opportunity to serve as an assistant for Tiger’s first captaincy,” said Stricker.

“Tiger was such a valuable member of our team in 2017 and I’m humbled that he sees me as an asset to the 2019 team. I look forward to helping him in any way he may need with his captaincy just like he helped me in 2017.”

For Johnson, it will mark his first stint as a captain’s assistant after four appearances as a player, including in 2007, 2009 and 2013 when he was a team mate of Woods.

Johnson, a 12-times PGA Tour winner, delivered his most impressive Presidents Cup performance in 2015 with a 3-0-1 record, which included two victorious fourball matches with partner Phil Mickelson and a singles win over Jason Day.

“Having competed with Tiger in the Presidents Cup in the past, I’ve always admired the pride he takes in these team events,” said Johnson.

“I’m thrilled he’s chosen to trust me with this important role, and I look forward to doing my part to help the team succeed.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis