DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - As much as players and officials like to talk up the competitive nature of the Presidents Cup there was also an end-of-season party atmosphere at Muirfield Village on Thursday with even Tiger Woods joining in the fun.
Woods and Matt Kuchar enjoyed a comfortable 5&4 win over Argentine Angel Cabrera and Australian Marc Leishman and the world number one had an unusually relaxed day.
With eight birdies between them and winning six holes to one, the American pair never looked in danger and there was even time for some fun and games.
Woods didn’t initially look amused when he felt a squirrel on the back of his neck while watching at the 18th green but he saw the funny side when he realised his girlfriend, Olympic downhill ski champion Lindsay Vonn had been behind the prank.
Kuchar had helped create the mood with an elaborate high-five routine with Woods to celebrate birdies with the American saying it was based on the ‘80s television comedy ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’.
“I‘m not a huge fan of bumping knuckles, I thought there was something a little extra, something fun to do,” said Kuchar.
”Baseball high‑fives look like a lot of fun but look a little too complicated so we went old school with the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, a little snap‑back after you slap hands.
“It’s fun, I figure he’s kind of like Carlton, and we really had a good time doing it out there,” he said.
Kuchar is Woods’ 19th different partner in Presidents and Ryder Cup action for the U.S. and the pair looked to have quickly formed a good understanding.
“We’ve been good friends for a long time. We went out there, had a great time today and put it on them,” said Woods.
Some may find playing with the 14-times major winner intimidating but Kuchar said he felt he was able to follow the example of Woods’ former partner Steve Stricker.
”For me to get a chance to partner up with Tiger is a thrill, an honor to be selected as his partner. I think I may relax him a little bit out there.
“I think my game, Steve and I laughed last night about it. We said, ‘we’re interchangeable’ he and I,” he added.
”We are both consistent and I think you can count on us to hit a lot of fairways and greens, and pretty handy with the putter, as well. We saw the two of us as interchangeable pieces.
“But I really enjoyed playing the last couple days with Tiger, and then we continued having some good success today.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury