Thursday Pairings Set for Presidents Cup; Woods vs. Scott in Last Group

The pairings and tee times for the opening foursomes matches in the ninth Presidents Cup have been set. The six matches begin Thursday at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

The 12-man International squad will be trying to wrest the Cup away from the American contingent, which beat them 19 to 14 two years ago at Harding Park in San Francisco. Overall, the U.S. holds a 6 to 1 edge in the previous eight matches.

The team captains for the 2009 matches, Fred Couples for the Americans and Greg Norman for the Internationals, have returned to lead their respective squads in 2011. On Wednesday, they released the following pairings for the foursomes and the tee times.

Match 1 - 1:05 p.m.: Ernie Els-Ryo Ishikawa, International vs. Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson, U.S.

Match 2 - 1:17 p.m.: Bill Haas-Nick Watney, U.S. vs. Geoff Ogilvy-Charl Schwartzel, International

Match 3 - 1:29 p.m.: Aaron Baddeley-Jason Day, International vs. Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar, U.S.

Match 4 - 1:41 p.m.: Phil Mickelson-Jim Furyk, U.S. vs. Retief Goosen-Robert Allenby, International

Match 5 - 1:53 p.m.: K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang, International vs. Hunter Mahan-David Toms, U.S.

Match 6 - 2:05 p.m.: Tiger Woods-Steve Stricker, U.S. vs. Adam Scott-K.J. Choi, International

Of course, much discussion was made about the possible pairing of Woods against Scott as Steve Williams - Woods' long-time caddie - now works for Scott. Of that pairing, Norman said, "I think it's great for the tournament. It needed to be done.

"I'm sure Freddie and I - everybody - we want to put this behind us," Norman said. "It's a dead issue as far as we're concerned. There's no animosity between any of the players. I know it's good fodder. People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it's dead and gone. And we would like to keep that way going forward."

Added Couples: "We did not plan anything but I think it worked out awesome." Both captains commented that they hope the Woods-Scott saga is now behind them.

"I like the pairings. I think the whole day is going to be fabulous," Couples added. "You're going to see six great matches."

On Tuesday Couples considered pairing Woods with Johnson after they played a practice round together, but the captain decided to keep Woods with Stricker. At Harding Park that duo went undefeated.

A player from each team weighed in on the much-anticipated final match. "That's going to be interesting, isn't it?" Allenby said. "I think there will be a lot of media out there."

"You can kind of see it coming, with what's been going on recently," Watney said. "I think it's great. I think it will definitely add some drama to the matches, and I know that they will both be ready. So it should be a good match."

Furyk doesn't believe the pairing will cause Woods to be anxious. "Pre-tournament fashion, Tiger never really shows a lot of stress, whether it be as an individual or whether as a teammate," Furyk said. "It's not that he looks nonchalant, but he never looks flustered. Even he's playing poorly, he doesn't look flustered."

For his part, Woods is anticipating more success with his good friend, Stricker. "I'm looking forward to going out there with Stricks again," Woods said Wednesday. "We have done well. Tomorrow is alternate-shot, and you know, we have got a good team ahead of us and we are going to obviously try and earn a point for our team.

"I think we feel very comfortable with one another. We know each other's games. We both read putts exactly the same way. That certainly helps. And I think it's just that we have been friends for so long that we just go out there and we just feel very comfortable just teeing it up and playing."

During the three months that Williams has been on Scott's bag, the Australian golfer has tried to downplay his new employee's former position, even after Williams said right after Scott's victory in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in early August was "the best win of my life."

Scott had to come to Williams defense again two ago after Williams, when asked about his TV interview at Firestone during a caddie awards dinner in China, responded, "My aim was to shove it up that black a------."

Amid accusations of making racist comments, Williams apologized; Scott said his caddie responded properly. Woods even concurred that Williams was not a racist and accepted the apology. The two former co-workers shook hands last week at a Sydney gym.

Norman wanted to let the situation die quickly in the Presidents Cup so everyone can move on. "If we had to defuse anything and just get this thing over and done with, wouldn't you rather have it sooner than later?" Norman said. "Because I personally wouldn't have wanted to be sitting down at the singles and everybody is playing a really tight match and it comes down to the last group or the second-to-last group, and all of this pressure is coming on because it's the first time the two met.

"Adam and Tiger are good friends," Norman said. "It's got nothing to do with Adam and Tiger, and at the end of the day, the atmosphere that will exist walking to the first tee will be exactly the same if none of this took place in the past week."

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