Tiger Woods’ ‘aura’ has dimmed, says Presidents Cup rival Ernie Els

Tiger Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2019

Tiger Woods’ ‘aura’ has dimmed, says Presidents Cup rival Ernie Els

  • Tiger Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne
  • One of Ernie Els’ key decisions will be who plays the 15-time major-winner in the singles on Sunday

SYDNEY: Ernie Els on Wednesday said Tiger Woods has lost some of his aura but the skipper of the International team will not be under-estimating his superstar counterpart at the Presidents Cup next week.
Woods is captaining and playing for the United States at the biennial matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne, and one of Els’ key decisions will be who plays the 15-time major-winner in the singles on Sunday.
The big South African has seven rookies in his 12-man team, but he also has a core of experienced players such as Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
Els said he would decide who faces Woods after seeing how they perform in the three days of fourballs and foursomes, but suggested it would not be a newcomer.
“I don’t want to have a guy feel overwhelmed,” he said in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open, where Els will play from Thursday alongside a handful of his Presidents Cup team.
“I will not put a guy in there that’s going to feel that way. I’ll see who is going to feel like he’s really got the best chance against Tiger.
“I don’t think today he has the same kind of aura he had in the past. It’s different,” added Els, himself a matchplay specialist but will only be captain in Melbourne.
“It’s more of a celebrity kind of aura. But he’s still very competitive. He’s won the Masters and he won in Japan (both this year).
“When Tiger is healthy, he can play at a very high level. But he’s not what he used to be consistently. That’s just what age does. But we’ll see when we get to Melbourne.”
The United States go into the tournament as heavy favorites, boasting some of the world’s top-ranked players such as Woods, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.
They have won all but one edition in the event’s 25-year history, with Melbourne in 1998 the exception.
Els said he had a good idea of what his pairings would be for the opening day of fourballs next Thursday, without giving anything away.
“There are a couple of pairings that are kind of natural pairings, if you can call it that, but I’m looking at it in a different way, not just a personality way.” he said. “I’m looking at how the guys can really perform together.
“I’ve spoken to the players, some of the players already. So my thing is kind of set already, my plan is kind of set in motion already.”
In addition to Scott, Oosthuizen and Leishman, Li Haotong of China, Taiwan’s CT Pan, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, Australian newcomer Cameron Smith and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama all qualified automatically.
Adam Hadwin and Jason Day were Els’ captain’s picks alongside rookies Im Sung-jae and Joaquin Niemann, although Day has since pulled out injured and been replaced by South Korean An Byeong-hun.


Setien plays down Messi and Griezmann uncertainty

Updated 04 July 2020

Setien plays down Messi and Griezmann uncertainty

  • Messi’s contract is due to expire next year

MADRID: Barcelona coach Quique Setien moved to ease concerns on Saturday about the futures of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

Messi’s contract is due to expire next year and, according to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, the Argentinian has stopped talks due to frustrations with the direction the club is going in.

Asked about suggestions Messi plans to leave Barcelona, Setien said: “I won’t speculate about this because I haven’t heard from him so I’m not aware of him saying anything.

“I see him well, everything else is speculation that I won’t get involved in. We speak about what we have to speak about and nothing else.”

Griezmann’s position is also in doubt after a disappointing first season since joining from Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona play away at in-form Villarreal on Sunday, with Real Madrid sitting four points clear at the top of the table.

“He’s fine, I exchanged a few words with him. He’s a great professional. He understands the situation because he’s seen it before,” Setien said about Griezmann.

“It will not affect him because he is a very positive person. We can count on him 100 percent.”

Griezmann has started three of Barca’s last four matches on the bench, including the crunch games against Sevilla and Atletico, both of which Barcelona drew.

Setien described Griezmann as “unquestionable” last month.

“I was talking about hierarchies but I haven’t said he is unquestionable. Griezmann is a great player and important to the team,” said Setien.

“When he plays, you ask me about Ansu Fati and vice-versa. Not everyone can play.

“I am not ignorant, every club has its hierarchies but at a club like Barca where there are so many players, not everyone is able to play.”

Barca’s form, as well as suggestions of unrest in the dressing room, have placed scrutiny on Setien’s job.

He has a contract until 2022, with a break clause in 2021, but it remains to be seen if he is in charge for next season, or even the Champions League in August.

“I have experienced it other times,” said Setien, when asked about the uncertainty.

“It is not something I can control. This the circus that we are in and we accept it.

“I don’t exhaust myself by reading or listening to the noise around me.”

Frenkie de Jong is not available to face Villarreal as the midfielder is still nursing a calf injury. Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele are also out.