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Woods, Kuchar paired in Presidents Cup opening matches

By John Strege

DUBLIN, Ohio -- No surprises surfaced from the Presidents Cup captains pairings for the first day of matches on Thursday, including Tiger Woods' partner.

Related: 13 reasons to be excited about the Presidents Cup

U.S. captain Fred Couples is teaming him with Matt Kuchar, with whom Tiger played practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will face the International team's Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman in the fifth match of fourballs Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

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"To be honest, there aren't really any surprises in Fred's pairings," International captain Nick Price said. "We pretty much figured that's who was going to play with each other, as I'm sure Fred figured out who was going to play on our team together."

Couples, who said "it's not rocket science," predictably paired Phil Mickelson with Keegan Bradley, who were undefeated together in the Ryder Cup a year ago. They will oppose the International's strongest pairing of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in match three.

"Those are two very strong players," Mickelson said. "Oosthuizen has not been healthy and able to play lately, but apparently he's 100 percent and his game looks pretty sharp. It's going to be a tough match. And Schwartzel has one of the most aesthetically beautiful swings you'll ever see. But Keegan and I are playing well. We're ready for it and we seem to bring out the best in each other."

Related: Why Woods is smiling this week

Couples took Jordan Spieth's youth (he's 20) and inexperience into consideration and teamed him with a veteran, Steve Stricker, who will oppose Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge in match four. Spieth, incidentally, made a hole-in-one on the 12th hole in a practice round on Wednesday.

Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker will lead off for the U.S. against Jason Day and Graham DeLaet. Bill Haas and Webb Simpson will follow and will play Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner are paired in the final match against Branden Grace and Richard Sterne.

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July 28, 2014

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