Freddie Couples has taken a lot of heat in recent weeks for picking Tiger Woods as a captain’s pick for the upcoming Presidents Cup.
But like most things, the laid-back golfer takes it in stride.
“Not to be flippy – I think it’s all irrelevant,” said Couples, who is in Cary for the SAS Championship. “You know, the guy in the last 50 years of golf is probably the second best player to ever play.”
Admittedly, Woods hasn’t played well in the past two years, but Couples said he still thinks the criticism is unwarranted.
“He did almost win Augusta so the guy can play.” Couples said. “He’s very healthy, and he’s practicing a lot. That doesn’t mean he’s not rusty, so we’ve still got plenty of time.”
The Presidents Cup, which pits a team of Americans against a group of International players, begins Nov. 17 at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia. Ten players earned enough points to automatically make each squad, and Couples and Greg Norman, the International team captain, added two players each.
In addition to Woods, Couples also chose Bill Haas, who won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million payout. Norman chose Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley.
Couples said he knows Woods is a polarizing sports figure, but the former No. 1 golfer in the world still attracts fans. Woods committed to playing in his second PGA Tour Fall Series event – the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club in Northern California.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I guess their sales are up 300 percent at CordeValle, so a lot of people like Tiger Woods, and I’m pretty excited about that.” Couples said.
In addition to Woods’ changes in his swing, tournament schedule and ranking – he’s now No. 50 – he also will have a new caddie on his bag when he comes to Australia. And it’s someone Couples know well.
Joe LaCava was Couples’ caddie for 20 years before taking over the bag for Dustin Johnson. Last week, Woods announced that LaCava was taking over for longtime caddie Stevie Williams, who was let go earlier this year.
But even that decision has drawn criticism for Woods.
“I think it’s a little crazy,” Couples said. “Joe LaCava is now working for (Woods), and he’s getting picked on for that, so it’s all kind of comical to me.”
Couples said he thinks LaCava is a good fit for Woods. They’re both sports junkies; LaCava knows Woods’ game; and they both know how to win.
“They’ve always got along great,” Couples said. “Joey picks on Tiger a lot, which not many people do. I think Tiger likes that. So they’ll mesh very well.
“And it’s a nice, fresh start for Tiger to have Joey, and I think they’ll do very well.”
J. Eric Eckard writes about all things golf on his second golfer blog. You also can follow him on Twitter.