Tiger Woods has blunt response to Webb Simpson's President's Cup beef: 'Play better'

Jason Owens

Tiger Woods’ resurgence includes two of the more remarkable wins of his career — last season’s stunning rally to secure the Tour Championship that sealed his comeback and, of course, this year’s Masters win that provided the ultimate punctuation mark.

Also part of his resurgence to golf relevance is his President’s Cup captainship. The PGA Tour selected Woods as the youngest U.S. captain ever last year, a role that will see Woods guide the U.S. against a team of international players in Melbourne, Australia in December.

The team will consist of 12 players — eight automatic qualifiers from the President’s Cup standings and four wild-card captain’s picks that belong to Woods.

Webb Simpson wants on the team

Webb Simpson is one of the outside hopefuls looking in, having moved up to 10th in the standings thanks to some recent hot play that includes a pair of runner-up finishes at last week’s WGC St. Jude Invitational and the Canadian Open in June.

Simpson has appeared on both Ryder Cup and President’s Cup teams before and told reporters Wednesday ahead of the Wyndham Championship that making the team remains a priority.

“It's a really big goal every year to make the team event,” Simpson said. “If you make a team event, no matter how you think your year has gone, it's a good thing. It's saying something good about your game.”

Tiger to Simpson: ‘Play better’

He was surprised that his recent run of success didn’t move him higher in the standings and told reporters he shared those thoughts on a phone call with Woods.

Woods, according to Simpson’s account, was not sympathetic.

“I called Tiger on Monday to talk to him,” Simpson said. “I thought I was going to move up more [in the standings] and I didn't. And he told me to ‘play better.’ So that was funny.”

While it sounds like it was a good-natured barb, it also was indicative of the competitive nature of the team. Woods’ message was clear: If you want to ensure you’re on the team, make sure you’re an automatic qualifier.

How the standings are shaping up

The captain’s picks are shaping up to be very competitive, especially considering Woods himself isn’t in the top eight of the standings. So assuming Woods uses one of the captain’s picks on himself if he doesn’t automatically qualify, there will be only three to go around.

Here are the current top 12 in the President’s Cup standings:

1: Brooks Koepka

2: Dustin Johnson

3: Justin Thomas

4: Xander Schauffele

5: Matt Kuchar

6: Bryson DeChambeau

7: Patrick Cantlay

8: Gary Woodland

9: Tony Finau

10: Webb Simpson

11: Rickie Fowler

12: Tiger Woods

That’s already a crowded list and one that doesn’t include names like Jordan Spieth (27th), Patrick Reed (17th) or Phil Mickelson (14th).

The captain’s picks will be coveted. And they will be completely up to Woods as he sees fit.

Woods is right. If Simpson wants to play in Melbourne in December, he should probably play better for the rest of the season.

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