iger Woods pulled his own name out of the hat.
Woods surprised no one when he named himself to the U.S. Presidents Cup team, making him the first playing captain in the biennial matches since Hale Irwin in 1994. He then rounded out his 12-man roster by adding Gary Woodland, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed.
Woodland and Finau will both make their Presidents Cup debuts, raising the number of rookies on Woods’ team to five.
This will be Woodland’s first opportunity to represent the U.S. in a team competition, months after his breakthrough victory at the U.S. Open. His recent results included top-5 finishes in both Korea and Japan.
Finau was added as a pick for last year’s Ryder Cup, and he enjoyed a second straight consistent season. While he struggled during the PGA Tour’s Asian Swing, Finau racked up four top-10 finishes in his five previous worldwide starts before that.
Reed will be making his third straight Presidents Cup appearance, although this time around he won’t have Jordan Spieth to play with. Woods’ selections mean that Spieth will miss his first U.S. team since 2012. Rickie Fowler was also left off the team. Phil Mickelson’s absence means that he will not be on a U.S. team for the first time since the 1993 Ryder Cup and the first time in the 25-year history of the Presidents Cup.
Woods saved his fourth and final pick for himself, meaning he’ll play in a Presidents Cup for the first time since 2013 and the third time at Royal Melbourne following matches in 1998 and 2011. He captured his 15th major title earlier this year at the Masters and tied the PGA Tour’s wins record with his 82nd career title last month at the Zozo Championship.
“The players, they wanted me to play in the event,” Woods said. “It’s going to be difficult, but I also have three amazing assistants in Fred (Couples), Stricks (Steve Stricker) and Zach (Johnson). So that helps a lot.”
Woods’ selections bolster the statistical advantage the Americans will have next month, with all four picks ranked higher in the world than the highest-ranked International player, No. 17 Adam Scott.
“On paper we certainly have the advantage in the world ranking. Our players have earned that by playing well around the world and playing well in big events,” Woods said. “But when we start out on Thursday, it’s 0-0. We’ve got to go out and earn points to win the cup.”
The players who previously qualified automatically for the U.S. team included Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay.
This article was originally published on NBC NEWS