CHIBA, Japan — Tiger Woods said he will give Brooks Koepka all the time he needs to decide if he is fit to play in the Presidents Cup after the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world aggravated a knee injury and withdrew from a tournament in South Korea last week.
Woods, who was playing the pro-am Wednesday morning in advance of the Zozo Championship, said he has been in contact with Koepka, who on Aug. 26 underwent a stem-cell procedure for a partially torn patellar tendon. The procedure was to relieve discomfort and strengthen the left knee that Koepka said had been bothering him since March.
Koepka, 29, returned earlier this month at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, where he missed the cut. Last week at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka slipped while walking on a concrete bridge during the second round and felt pain in his knee. He decided to withdraw from the tournament and offered no timetable for his return.
“We’re waiting to see what the surgeons say, see what happens, what his protocol is going to be going forward,” Woods said at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. “That’s something he said he will keep me abreast of going forward. As of right now, we’re just waiting on what the surgeon says and what he is going to do.
“He is getting other opinions on what his knee is and what his options are. You want to go through as many different opinions as you possibly can before you decide what you road you are going to go down.”
Koepka was the No. 1 qualifier for the U.S. team after a season that saw him win his fourth major championship as well as a World Golf Championship event while finishing fourth in the FedEx Cup standings.
He went 2-2 in his lone Presidents Cup two years ago, and has also played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams.
Woods, who remains a possibility to be a playing captain, will make four at-large picks to fill out his 12-man squad on Nov. 7. The competition is Dec. 12-15. If Koepka or any player who made the team has to withdraw, Woods is allowed to choose anyone to replace him.
“I told him to take his time. No hurry,” he said. “You’re part of the team. You earned your way in the top eight spots. You’re on the team. You have to figure out what is best for your career and your knee and if you decide you can’t play, great. I totally understand. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”
Woods can pick his four players on Nov. 7 and add another if Koepka decides to withdraw after that.
Before aggravating the injury last week, Koepka said the knee was the best it had been since earlier in the year.
“I finally feel 100 percent, which is nice, and hopefully stay that way for the rest of the season,” he said. “I’d been battling it there for the last four months of that season. And then just nice to be back playing.”
Koepka is scheduled to play next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China. His manager, Blake Smith, said Wednesday he is awaiting more information before announcing anything.
No. 3-ranked Dustin Johnson is also recovering from knee procedure but Woods said he expects him to be ready for the Presidents Cup.