One of the oldest and truest cliches in sports is that golfers don't play each other, they play the course. In match play, that's not entirely true, as a great score can still lead to a loss and a bad score can still mean a victory. Few golfers in the world know that better than Tiger Woods, which should at least partially explain why Fred Couples made him a somewhat surprising selection to the 2011 Presidents Cup team that will tee off at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Thursday.
Despite the fact that Woods has not won a tournament since 2009 and is coming off a first-round exit from the Match Play Championship in February, he is still one of the most intimidating players in the world.
His recent struggles aside, few can equal his match-play resume:
- He's won the Accenture Match Play Championship three times (2003, 2004, 2008)
- He's compiled a 36-8 record in WGC match play events, meaning he's playing entirely against the world's best players
- He's competed on six Ryder Cup teams (going 10-13-2) and this will be his seventh Presidents Cup appearance (18-11-1)
- He went 5-0-0 during his last Presidents Cup appearance, and has led the U.S. to a 4-1-1 record against the World team during his six previous appearances
What Couples sees in Woods is clearly something more than the player he's been since coming back from injury. Woods is among the hardest players in the world to beat when he's head-to-head, and Couples is clearly counting on some of that mental acumen to shine through this weekend.