Just four weeks ahead of the biennial Presidents Cup matches, United States captain Tiger Woods had to make the unenviable decision to replace the top-ranked golfer in the world, Brooks Koepka, as a result of the four-time major champion’s nagging knee injury.
Koepka had offseason stem cell surgery on his left knee to relieve pain and discomfort. In his first start back at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka aggravated the knee slipping on wet concrete before he teed off in his third round of the event.
“I am announcing my withdrawal from the U.S. Presidents Cup Team because of my knee injury,” Koepka said in a statement and Instagram post. ” I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete.”
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Today, I am announcing my withdrawal from the USA Presidents Cup team because of my knee injury. I notified Captain Tiger Woods that despite constant medical care and rehab, I am not able to play golf at this time. I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete. ⠀ Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal. ⠀ I’m sorry I won’t be able to represent the Red, White, and Blue this time around and I wish my teammates nothing but the best as they work to retain the Presidents Cup for the USA.
Woods moved quickly and decisively in replacing Koepka with Rickie Fowler, a two-time Presidents Cup participant.
“Brooks and I talked, and he’s disappointed that he won’t be able to compete,” Woods said. “I told him to get well soon, and that we’re sorry he won’t be with us in Australia. He would clearly be an asset both on the course and in the team room.
“I spoke to Rickie and he has agreed to join the U.S. Team. Rickie has played on a couple Presidents Cup teams, was someone seriously considered for a pick and is well respected and liked by his teammates. I know he’s going to do a great job for us. We’re all excited about this year’s event. The course is outstanding, the fans will be loud and we’re playing against great competitors. We’re ready to go.”
Fowler is coming off of a lengthy lay-off that was unexpectedly extended by a bout with an intestinal bacterial infection he contracted during his honeymoon.
“When I heard Brooks wasn’t going to be ready to play, I was bummed for him and the team,” Fowler said. “Then I got a call from both Brooks and Tiger. I was humbled and excited to be given the chance. These team events have been some of the most memorable weeks of my career. To be picked by Tiger to compete with him and the rest of the team is very special. It is impossible to replace the world’s No. 1, but I can assure my teammates and American golf fans that I will be prepared and ready to do my part to bring home the Presidents Cup.”
Fowler brings a 4-3-1 Presidents Cup record to the squad, which was bolstered by his 3-0-1 performance two years ago at Liberty National.
The matches are slated to take place December 12-15 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.