Tiger Woods applauds format

Updated: October 2, 2013, 12:06 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods' partners for this week's Presidents Cup are still to be determined, but what he likes most about the competition is the ability of the captain to influence against whom he plays.

Unlike the Ryder Cup, in which the captains put out their teams without knowing the order of the other squad's lineup, the Presidents Cup has the captains mix and match prior to each session.

That will be the case Wednesday when U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Nick Price announce the order of their teams for the four-ball (best-ball) competition that begins Thursday at Muirfield Village.

"I think it's fantastic how they do the pairings,'' Woods said Tuesday after a practice round at Muirfield Village, a course where he has won the Memorial Tournament five times. "You can really set up some pairings and really get some key matchups or guys who are not playing well and put them out against another group that is not playing well. You can do those kind of matchups.

"Having the captains do that puts a little more emphasis on what happens, what the captain's responsibilities are," Woods said. "It's not just putting in the pairings like at the Ryder Cup and blindly seeing what happens. There's a lot of thinking and shuffling that goes on.''

Woods requested a singles match against Greg Norman in 1998 in Australia and against Vijay Singh in 2000, when the tournament was played in Virginia. In 2007, with the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal, Woods took on Canada's Mike Weir and lost his singles match.

Woods will play in the Presidents Cup for the eighth time after having played in seven Ryder Cups. He has competed for the U.S. every year since his first Ryder Cup in 1997, missing only the 2008 Ryder Cup due to injury.

His record at the Presidents Cup is 20-14-1, the U.S. suffering just one defeat in 1998 and a tie in 2003. The Americans are 7-1-1 overall. The Ryder Cup is a different story: Woods is 13-17-3 and has played on just one victorious team, in 1999.

Last year at the Ryder Cup, Woods partnered three times with Steve Stricker and went 0-3, then got a half in his singles match against Francesco Molinari. Two years ago in Australia, Woods went 2-3 with a singles victory over Aaron Baddeley. He was 3-1 at the Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010 and 5-0 at the Presidents Cup in San Francisco in 2009, when he went 4-0 with Stricker as his partner.

Stricker again appears to be a strong possibility for Woods, along with Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner.

"It's two or three guys, the usual, Steve Stricker will probably play with him a little bit, and Matt Kuchar is out playing with him and Dufner,'' Couples said. "So I let them tell me.''

But don't expect it to be Phil Mickelson. The two played together on the first day of the 2004 Ryder Cup, losing both matches. They were never grouped together before or since.

"All the other guys want to play with him; Phil probably won't,'' Couples said to laughter.

Woods has had 18 different partners over the years in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup play. Either Dufner or Kuchar would make it 19.

The format for the Presidents Cup is similar to the Ryder Cup, but it is played over four days instead of three. Thursday will be six four-ball matches (best ball), followed by six foursomes (alternate shot) Friday. There are five matches of each Saturday, followed by 12 singles matches Sunday.

Asked for a player he'd like as a partner, Woods said: "Whoever is playing well, whoever can carry me is great."

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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