At the 2019 Presidents Cup, the American team may technically have two captains at Royal Melbourne -- but not at the same time.
Tiger Woods is going to be the first playing American captain the Presidents Cup since Hale Irwin was playing on the inaugural American Presidents Cup team he captained in 1994. However, under the rules of the competition, Tiger Woods cannot be considered the captain and a competitor at the same time. That's because captains in a team competition are allowed to do things competitors cannot, including giving advice and receiving certain information.
This means that Tiger Woods must name a temporary team captain when he is competing in matches. With five sessions over four days, it's conceivable there's a temporary captain for the duration as the world No. 6 tries to contribute to another American victory in the biennial series.
Under the rules set forth, Woods must name one of his vice-captains to be the temporary captain when he plays. Woods can name that person before each round or session in which he plays. He can change it during play, but it can only be one person. Technically, the captain doesn't have to be the one eligible to give advice at any point during the matches.
Woods' vice-captains are three-time victorious American Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, the winning 2017 American President Cup captain Steve Stricker and two-time major winner Zach Johnson.
Of course, there are reasons for all three to serve as temporary captain. Couples has done the job the most. Stricker did Woods' job most recently before him. Johnson is still active on the PGA Tour and has current relationships with the players competing.
In 1994, Hale Irwin named Paul Azinger as his assistant captain, and Azinger took over the team when Irwin was in play.
“From the day I got there, it was evident that Hale wasn’t going to be heavily involved in (decisions), but he was heavily involved in playing great golf,” said Azinger to PGATour.com. “He was the captain, but he let me captain. Putting Hale out first wasn’t an easy decision for me, but he let me do it.”