Saturday 16 December 2017

Tiger hoping for Williams face-off

James Corrigan, IN MELBOURNE

GREG NORMAN thinks the match-up is "inevitable", while Fred Couples believes it "would be fun".

And Tiger Woods would have no problem playing against Adam Scott and his former caddie, Steve Williams, this week. Indeed, his mood said "bring it on".

Woods was talking at Royal Melbourne yesterday, the venue for The Presidents Cup, which starts in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

The International team, led by Norman, have not beaten the US, led by Couples, since this Ryder Cup wannabe competition was last staged in Melbourne 13 years ago.

The prospect of Woods facing Williams, the jilted bagman who a fortnight ago called Woods "that black a***hole", lends the match more edge.

"If it happens it happens," said Woods when asked if he would be comfortable with the encounter. "Whoever you're paired up against you've got to earn your point for your country."

If Woods and Scott are matched up it will likely be in one of Sunday's 12 singles matches. Before that there are six foursomes tomorrow, six fourballs on Friday and then five foursomes and five fourballs on Saturday.

For Woods, this week's match is very different to his five previous appearances in the President's Cup -- and his six Ryder Cup caps.

In all 11 of those competitions, Woods was the highest-ranked player in the US team; this time he is the lowest-ranked at 50th in the world, even after his third place in the Australian Open last Sunday. It is now exactly two years since the 14-time Major champion last won a tournament, his career as well as his marriage having crashed once his serial adultery became public knowledge.

With injuries on top of that, Couples took a gamble when he made an early decision that Woods would be one of his two wild cards. It meant leaving out USPGA champion Keegan Bradley, but last week's performance in Sydney has taken some of the heat off Couples.

Not that he appears to have felt that heat anyway.

"Look, how many times do I have to say that picking the best player in the world is a no-brainer?" Couples said. "Are you kidding me? Plus, months ago when Tiger was still hurt, he was telling me he wanted to be on this team.

"I don't know how he felt about team competitions in the past, but I know he's pumped to be here.

"He's had a lot going on the last couple of years, but I know he's having a blast and he's glad to be here.

"We had dinner four times in Sydney last week. There's an 'X' on his back -- I mean, he can't go anywhere. Here, he's one of the guys and comfortable with them. And they're happy to have him around."

Woods responded: "Fred could have picked anybody and I'm thankful that he had faith in me to be a part of the team and wanted me to be a part of the team. A lot of the players wanted me on the team as well, so that part definitely did feel good."

Hoping to make maximum use of home advantage, Greg Norman has five Australians in his International line-up, including wild-card picks Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley.

After Norman added some spark to the build-up by stating that he would not have selected Woods, Couples pointed out that Allenby -- ranked 69th in the world -- has not won a PGA Tour event for a decade. (© Independent News Service)

Presidents Cup, Day 1,

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Irish Independent

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