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October 1 2013

5:50 PM

Kuchar, Dufner set to play with Woods?

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Tiger Woods (l) and Matt Kuchar (r) have won two of the last three Memoriials at Muirfield Village.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Although he didn't specify whether it would be in Four-Balls or Foursomes -- or both -- Matt Kuchar hinted he would partner with Tiger Woods at this week's Presidents Cup.

"I get a feeling that Tiger and I will probably play together this week," Kuchar said Tuesday afternoon. "I look foward to it. I get along real well with  Tiger. Certainly if you could pick a partner, the No. 1 player in the world is a good partner to have."

The pairing would put together two players who have had enormous success at Muirfield Village. Kuchar is the defending champion of the Memorial Tournament and hasn't finished lower than 10th in his last five appearances while Woods is a five-time champ of the tournament Jack Nicklaus hosts.

"I don't know that I'd pick his brain too much on how to play the course," Kuchar acknowledged. "I feel I know very well myself how to play it. But surely having him there to count on and rely on, you've got the best player in the world on your back to play with (and that) is a good partner to have."

Kuchar and Woods played with Jason Dufner and the ailing Zach Johnson's alter ego, assistant captain Davis Love III, during the bulk of Tuesday's practice session at Muirfield Village. Dufner and Johnson went 2-1 at the Ryder Cup so they are a logical pairing, too, but there is also talk that the reigning PGA champion is another potential partner for Woods.

"Everyone wants to play with Tiger," Couples said. "You can only get one partner. ... I pretty much have let the guys decide. If you go out and look at our pairings, you can probably figure out who is playing with who today. It's not going to be too difficult."

Couples indicated Steve Stricker, who has been Woods' partner in 11 matches and went 4-0 with him in 2009 at Harding Park, could be another possibility. 

"With Tiger, 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." 

Dufner said he and Woods get along well and have "pretty casual" demeanors on the golf course.

"It's a little bit selfish on my part, if you ask me, who would I want to play with, I would want to play with Tiger," Dufner said. "How could you not?  He's the best in the world right now, arguably the best in the history of the game.
   
"Just something for me to selfishly look back on my career and say I've partnered with him in The Ryder Cup, The Presidents Cup, whatever it might have been.  You know, if it does roll that way and we get paired together, I'm going to have a lot of fun out there.  It's going to be exciting."

Kuchar or Dufner would be Woods's 19th different partner in the 54 combined Foursomes and Four-Ball matches he's played in seven Presidents Cup and seven Ryder Cups.

The other 18 are Couples (3 matches), Charles Howell III (5), Chris Riley (1), David Duval (1), David Toms (1), Davis Love III (3), Dustin Johnson (3), Jerry Pate (1), Jim Furyk (9), John Huston (1), Justin Leonard (2), Mark Calcavecchia (1), Mark O'Meara (3), Notah Begay III (4), Paul Azinger (1), Phil Mickelson (2), Steve Stricker (11) and Tom Lehman (1).

"I've played on these teams for so long now, I've had all different types of partners; guys who hit the ball for miles, guys who are short, guys who are pretty mellow, guys who are pretty volatile," Woods said. "I've had it all.
   
"So I think it's just a matter of trying to gel that particular week, and, you know, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. But the whole idea is to go out there and just play."

Woods joked that he didn't have a preference for a partner in terms of playing style or personal compatibility.

"Whoever is playing well, whoever can carry me is great," he said with a big smile.

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