Tiger Woods has ensured a show-stopping start to the Presidents Cup after selecting himself for Thursday’s opening four-ball match at Royal Melbourne.
The United States’ superstar playing captain will team up with world No.4 Justin Thomas after opting to taking on the International pairing of Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann.
The 15-time major winner is intent on striking the first blow for the US.
“From our side, we had a game plan, who we wanted to start out, and we were committed to putting Justin and myself out there, and that’s who we’re rolling with,” Woods said at Wednesday’s draw.
Interestingly, with an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, Woods picked five first-time pairings for day-one duties, with Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler the heavy favourites’ two unlucky omissions.
As promised, Woods kept faith with Patrick Reed, partnering golf’s bad boy with Webb Simpson just days after he was penalised for cheating in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Reed and Simpson will face Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan in the fourth match of the opening session.
Internationals captain Ernie Els overlooked Cameron Smith, as well as Haotong Li, for the four-ball matches.
But as well as Leishman taking on Tiger, Smith’s fellow Australian Adam Scott will combine with captain’s pick Byeong Hun An hoping to secure the Internationals a point against Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau in the third match.
“We have a system we are following and I can’t let anything out of the bag more than that, but there’s enough Australians out there tomorrow to rally a lot of guys,” Els said.
“But as I said to them, we are all one this week – Australians, South Africans, the whole Internationals.
“Hopefully they will support us very nicely and very fair.”
WHO PLAYS WHO IN THE OPENING FOUR-BALL MATCHES
Match one: Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann (Internationals) v Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas (USA)
Match two: Adam Hadwin and Sungjae Im (Internationals) v Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (USA)
Match three: Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An (Internationals) v Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau (USA)
Match four: Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan (Internationals) v Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson (USA)
Match five: Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen (Internationals) v Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland (USA)