MELBOURNE // A third-place finish at the Australian Open has given Tiger Woods a timely filip before this week's Presidents Cup and gone some way to validating Fred Couples's decision to pick the fallen former world No 1 as a captain's choice.
The 14-time major winner will continue to search for his old form in front of a bumper crowd at Royal Melbourne Golf Club after a tumultuous period blighted by injuries and personal problems.
Greg Norman, the international team captain, has demanded his players shelve tour friendships and seek to emulate the killer instinct Woods showed in his pomp.
"Tiger is very much that way when he walks on there. He kinds of says, 'I'm here to beat you'," said Norman, who has questioned Woods's selection and ability to win another major in the lead-up to Melbourne.
"That resonates all the way through. I was the same way. You walk into the locker room at the start of a round. 'I'm here but don't mess with me today.
"'I want to go to the first tee and beat you'."
Woods has proved a major Presidents Cup headache Norman, who stood powerless as the American won his matches 5-0 in a dominant 2009 win at the last edition in San Francisco.
Norman has called on the Australian crowds to be his team's "extra" team member and dismissed the idea that he and Couples might seek to avoid a matchup between Woods and Adam Scott, the Australian golfer.
Such a clash would bring Scott's caddie Steve Williams in uncomfortable proximity to Woods following controversy over the New Zealander's remark about his former employer at an annual caddie awards dinner.
Williams, who carried Woods's bag for 13 years before being fired in July, apologised personally to the American last week, while Woods said he wanted to move on from the incident.
"If it happens, it happens," said Norman, who will pick his team's matchups alternately with Couples.
"It is not going to be premeditated ... I talked to Adam [Scott] about it. I asked him if it worked out that way, did he have a problem with it. He said, 'Not at all. I'll play him and win a point for you.'
"It can fall out that way. He might end up playing with him every day. Who knows? I'd expect them to meet some time from Thursday onwards."
Norman is banking on home advantage to end the US's domination of the Presidents Cup, taking Australians Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley as his captain's picks.
Norman said he was inspired by his compatriots' solid showing at the US Masters in April where Scott and Jason Day finished joint second and Geoff Ogilvy joint third.
"On my phone I have a photograph of the four Aussies on the leader board [at Augusta]," he said.
"They slotted Tiger Woods in there just to mess it up. They had Tiger just above Geoff Ogilvy. I was ticked off. I wanted them to drop Tiger's name down one. That's how proud I was."