Couples emphatically defends Tiger decision

November 02, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - Fred Couples and John Cook have work to do at this week's Charles Schwab Cup Championship, but the United States Presidents Cup captain and his newly named assistant also have their minds on the upcoming match against the International side.

One thing is clear: Whatever others might think about Couples' selection of Tiger Woods as one of his two captain's picks, the captain and his new aide aren't wavering about the 14-time major champion.

"I picked Tiger Woods because of his record," Couples said at TPC Harding Park. "We're not buddies. I like the way he plays golf. At Harding Park [in the 2009 Presidents Cup], he was a machine. In the last two months, he has really, really worked hard on his game. I think he's healthy. He has been the best player for 10 years or longer. I ain't leaving him off the team."

Cook, who along with Mark O'Meara has been one of Woods' best friends among fellow tour pros, believes that friendship was part of the reason Couples selected Cook to step in as one of his assistant captains when basketball legend Michael Jordan bowed out because of NBA obligations.

"Certainly my relationship with Tiger was probably an issue that helped Fred make [this] decision," Cook said. "We're very close. I believe in what he's doing. I believe in Tiger Woods. I'm an old friend of his. If I can make him at all feel comfortable doing anything, that's my role.

"I know he likes to show off [his game] in front of me, too. I've seen the best stuff I've ever seen in my life. I always tell him, 'Why don't you just go out there and do that.' So maybe he'll do that, and relax a little bit, knowing he's got a compadre there who really does care about him genuinely as a friend, as somebody that really cares and really believes in what he's doing. Not may people now believe in what he's doing. It might be nice [for Woods] to have somebody there, not question him, but to help."

Count Cook among those who think Woods' work with instructor Sean Foley will pay off eventually. "I listened to Tiger and Hank [Haney] for six years," Cook said. "I never quite got it, to be honest. Nothing against Hank. I love the man. Have known him for 20 years. I just didn't quite get what they were trying to do. Tiger won a lot of golf tournaments using that. But I think he won because he was Tiger Woods, not because of Hank Haney. I think this [Foley method], is going to work as well, what he's doing right now."

While Cook offered strong support of Couples' choice of Woods, the U.S. skipper knows the conversation is going to continue.

"Everybody's chiming [in] on Tiger," Couples said. "He's free game."

--Bill Fields


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