Tiger Woods and his partner Justin Thomas will kick off competition for the United States in the Presidents Cup, which begins Thursday morning local time in Melbourne, Australia.
Woods, the team captain, and Ernie Els, captain of the opposing International team, made their pairings selections in the draw held Wednesday.
Putting himself in the first pairing was part of his strategy to benefit the team as both a player and a coach, Woods said.
“I think 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.
While Woods is on the course, assistant captain Steve Stricker will fill the captain’s role. Stricker was the team captain in the 2017 event and is the Ryder Cup captain for 2020.
“It was important for me to get out there as a player, but also as a captain, I want to obviously see my guys play,” Woods said. “This is my first time as a captain. I want to be able to enjoy that part of it, as well.”
Thomas and Woods will be matched against Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann. They are scheduled to tee off at 9:32 a.m. local time — 5:32 p.m. ET on Wednesday in the United States — at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Opening-round play will consist of five four-ball matches. There will be five foursomes (alternate shot) matches on Friday while Saturday’s play will feature four matches of each format. All 12 players will take part in Sunday’s singles matches.
Other Thursday matches (American pairings listed first) are: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay against Adam Hadwin and Sung-jae Im; Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau against Adam Scott and Ben An; Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed against Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan; and Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland against Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen.
Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar won’t take part in the first round for the Americans, with Haotong Li and Cam Smith sitting out for the International squad.
Woods is 24-15-1 as a player in the event. After winning the Zozo Championship in Japan in October, Woods selected himself as one of the four captain’s picks for the team. Thomas, who debuted in the Presidents Cup in 2017, is 3-1-1.
Only Phil Mickelson, with 26 wins, has more than Woods. Mickelson is not part of this year’s team.
The Presidents Cup began in 1994, and the U.S. team is 10-1-1 record all-time. Its only loss came at Royal Melbourne in 1998, with the tie occurring in South Africa in 2003.
Els said he has a strategy to break the losing streak but wouldn’t divulge anything.
“We’ve had a plan, and this is the way we figured it,” Els said. “Yeah, I can’t give you exactly what we’re doing in the team room, but you know, we’ve got a system and we’re following that; let’s put it that way.”
—Field Level Media