November 16 2011
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The buzz in the media center could be felt as soon as the respective captains announced the pairings for Match 5.
With 20 players on the pairings board, just four players were left -- including Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.
As you might imagine, the post-pairings conversation Wednesday at Royal Melbourne was dominated by the Match 6 pairing of Woods-Steve Stricker vs. Scott-K.J. Choi. This will be the first time Woods and Scott will be in the same group since Scott's caddie Steve Williams made his controversial remarks about his former employee.
Although Williams has apologized for his remarks and has shaken hands with Woods in hopes of putting the issue to rest, interest about the final match will certainly be high on Thursday when The Presidents Cup begins with six foursomes matches.
"I think it's great for the tournament," International captain Greg Norman said. "It needed to be done. It played out the way it played out. There wasn't any premeditation by it.
"I think at the end of the day, the guys in that last group will be the consummate professionals and go out and play the game of golf representing their International Team and the U.S. Team the way they should do."
Couples made similar sentiments, saying there was no planning by both sides to make the match happen.
"I think it worked out awesome for everybody involved to have Adam and Tiger play," Couples said. "As we said all along, they are still very good friends, and I think it's an exciting match."
Australia’s Jason Day was in the team room with the rest of the Internationals when the pairings were announced. He said the players were all clapping when the pairings for the final match took shape.
“I think everyone is kind of pumped for it,” Day said.
American veteran Jim Furyk, when asked about Match 6, used the word “interesting.” Twice.
“I think it's probably a pairing that y'all have been talking about for two weeks now since we were in China,” Furyk said, “and it was probably a matter of time before it happened. So just want to get it out of the way right off the first.”
Couples did have the opportunity to avoid the pairing when he made his Match 5 announcement. Norman had already selected K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang, and Couples could have countered with putting Woods-Stricker against the Korean duo.
Instead, he opted for Hunter Mahan-David Toms in Match 5, setting the stage for the final match of the day.
"There's more to this thing than where you slot the players," Couples explained. "Like Greg said, and we were right here, we were writing down cards and it's just the way it fell, and I think it would be worse if we hid this deal."
Most of the questions posed to the two captains centered around Match 6. Norman was even asked if he had a sense whether Williams wanted the pairing.
"I have not even had a conversation with Steve Williams," Norman said. "His job is to carry Adam Scott's bag and doesn't matter whether they are playing Tiger Woods or not."
Both Norman and Couples said they are hopeful that by getting the Woods-Scott pairing done early, the conversation will turn elsewhere.
"It's a dead issue as far as we are concerned," Norman said. "There's no animosity between any of the players or any of the issues have taken place.
"I know it's good fodder. People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it's dead and gone, and we would like to keep it that way going forward."