I’m happy to report that I finally returned to competition on the Champions Tour after elbow surgery in January and teed it up at the Encompass Championship in Chicago. The last time I played a tournament was in August last year. I've never had that length of time off from the game at any time in my career, so I'm happy to be back out playing.
Fortunately, I’ve had The Presidents Cup to keep me occupied and I've been trying to figure out how I can perhaps turn things around with the International Team being 1â€‘7â€‘1. I’ve read a lot of stats and crunched a lot of numbers with comparisons between the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup to give me an idea of what's going on. I've communicated with potential team members at a few tournaments. Obviously Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Ernie Els and now George Coetzee are five South Africans who are potential team members that live near me in Jupiter. I've spent a bit of time with Ernie chatting about things.
Following the Masters, I’ve been paying close attention to the “tail enders” on the points standings and seeing how they're moving. Hideki Matsuyama's played fantastically. He's only been a pro since April and he's won twice, finished second twice and played really well at the U.S. Open, where he tied for tenth. I was looking for his performance at the U.S. Open because it's one thing to play well in Japan, but to come over to the United States and play like that was huge. So he's not scared of the big arena. Obviously he enjoys it, so I'll keep a really close eye on him.
All in all, the team's shaping up pretty well. With the remaining majors and the Playoffs coming up and big points being available at those events the whole complexion of the team could possibly change. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
We had a really good team meeting at the Memorial Tournament. Adam Scott spoke beautifully and put forth some ideas that he and I had discussed previously. KJ Choi spoke through his interpreter. The younger players listened to what these two had to say and they could see how passionate they both were about competing in this Presidents Cup, so it was really good in that respect.
The recent trip Fred and I made to the White House was an honor. Very few people get to do that. It was extremely special being in the Oval Office speaking with the President. Seeing all these wonderful paintings and experiencing the history, and thinking of all the famous, incredibly powerful people that have been through that office. It's very humbling. The President was kind and courteous to both of us and he also is a very keen golfer, so we spoke a lot about golf.
I have been in touch with my assistant captains about how we're going to structure the week, the practice rounds and making sure that everyone's comfortable, the players' lounge area, the players' hotel, how are we going to do our dinners. We're just trying to keep it as low key as possible.
The uniforms are all done and the rain gear is completed. Now it's just choosing all of the gifts for the players and the wives. It's been a great experience for me so far and because of my injury, I'm happy that I've had all the time to make the decisions without having to make them quickly.
As far as my playing schedule goes, I’m taking it on a week-to-week basis, but I intend to play most tournaments on the Champions Tour, including this week’s Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Fred and Jay Haas and I are paired together, so that should be a lot of fun.
Until next time……