Woods 'a heck of a captain', says Couples

Tiger Woods (pic) is something of a changed man, Fred Couples says.
Tiger Woods (pic) is something of a changed man, Fred Couples says.

Fred Couples has offered a fascinating insight into how much Tiger Woods the captain wants to win the Presidents Cup.

And how much Tiger has mellowed without losing his insatiable appetite for success.

Much has been made of Woods' late-night, early-morning texting to teammates as the 15-times major champion obsessively plots an eighth successive USA victory over the Internationals at Royal Melbourne.

As former Presidents Cup captain now assistant Couples recalls, it's a far cry from when Woods was all about Woods.

"There was a year at Augusta where he barely sat down at the (Masters champions') dinner," Couples said.

"And I don't sit that far away from him and he was telling a few people he may never play again and he just can't move - and he's got a little bit of a new life.

"So I think he's understanding that, whereas when he was 25, 30, 35, all he wanted to do was maybe be to himself and beat everybody up that he played against, and he did it. Did it very well."

While Couples says Woods hasn't since "become soft" he feels he is now much more comfortable getting close to others.

"It's very fun to be around him. I've got to tell you, he's a pretty funny, tough guy when he gets you in a corner, and he doesn't let up, which I like," Couples said.

"Some people kind of get scared by that. I just like his attitude."

Challenging Jack Nicklaus as golf's all-time greatest, Woods' accomplishments are well documented.

"For me, it's everything else. With his kids, he's a great dad," Couples said.

"I have a caddie for over 20 years that's now caddying for him, and Joe (LaCava) tells me all kinds of things, and normally it's about his (Woods') son and daughter, not how good he hits a 3-iron.

"So I enjoy that, too."

Hailing him as a "heck of a captain", Couples is tipping Woods to pick himself for three matches this week.

The former world No.1 has already selected himself for Thursday's opening four-ball encounter, partnering Justin Thomas against Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann.

"I picked him when he was like 400th in the world to come down here and play (in 2011)," Couples said.

"I picked him three months early and took a bunch of grief for it. He should be on every team. That's how good he is."

Australian Associated Press