Tiger Woods is paired with Matt Kuchar for today’s opening fourball matches at the Presidents Cup team golf tournament.
U.S. captain Fred Couples, who has said he wants Woods to be the team leader, is sending Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker out in the first match.
Woods and Kuchar will face Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and Australia’s Marc Leishman in the fifth of six fourball matches at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The Presidents Cup, which began in 1994, is a team competition between the U.S. and an international group of non-Europeans. The Americans hold a 7-1-1 lead in the event.
“We felt like Woods would be good in the five slot, and that’s almost where we had him from the get-go to clean up and hopefully get a point for us, so we had him going late in the day,” Couples told reporters.
Kuchar will be the 19th different player Woods has been paired with in U.S. team competitions. The international team, captained by Zimbabwe’s Nick Price, includes seven Presidents Cup rookies.
Mahan and Snedeker will face Australia’s Jason Day and Canada’s Graham DeLaet to open fourball play, in which each golfer plays his own ball with the lowest score winning the hole.
“It’s good to be first up,” Mahan told reporters. “It’s such a fun event, so it’s nice to not have to sit around and watch everyone else and be able to go out and play.”
Bill Haas and Webb Simpson will face Masters Tournament winner Adam Scott of Australia and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan in the second match. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who often play practice rounds together during U.S. PGA Tour events, will follow against South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Steve Stricker, 46, and Jordan Spieth, 20, are paired in the fourth match against Ernie Els of South Africa and Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe. Spieth is the first U.S. PGA Tour rookie selected to play in the event.
“He’s going to be a mentoring figure for me,” Spieth said of Stricker. “I think it will be a great fit.”
The final fourballs match today has PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson against South Africans Brenden Grace and Richard Sterne.
The teams tomorrow play in foursomes, or alternating shots with the same ball. The weekend schedule will feature fourballs in the morning of Oct. 5, followed by foursomes in the afternoon, then 12 singles matches the next day.