The Loop

Internationals shake things up after falling into early hole

November 17, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia -- With the U.S. making a late surge for a 4-2 lead after the first day of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne GC, captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman reacted somewhat predictably in making their four-ball pairings for Friday's second round.

Couples kept most of his teams intact. Norman shook up his Internationals.


The usually-reliable pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker will be broken up in Friday's four-ball. Photo by Getty Images.

A bit unpredictable was which team Norman decided to split up. Adam Scott and K.J. Choi, who dismantled Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, 7 and 6, are not playing four-balls together. Scott will team with Korean youngster K.T. Kim. Choi is paired with Geoff Ogilvy.

Necessitating the move is the fact that a north-northwest wind is moving in, the most difficult in which to play Royal Melbourne, Norman said. He wants experience lending a hand where needed.

"Kyung-tae Kim has never played in a north-northwest wind around Royal Melbourne. It's a completely different golf course than what we have had today," the Shark said. "Adam has played in the north-northwest, and he knows the lines off the tee; it's going to be crucial. Him giving direction, K.T. was very excited, because he doesn't know the golf course that well."

On the other side of the coin, Couples kept together teams that went a combined 3-0-1. But Woods and Stricker have been split up, with Woods playing alongside Dustin Johnson and Stricker joining Matt Kuchar.

Only one matchup is a rematch, with Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson taking on Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikwa in the opening tilt.

Here's quick look at the six matches:

__Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson vs. Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa.

__The language barrier here is trying to describe Bubba's power displays. Simpson will be freed up as a result.

__Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods vs. Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day

__Woods playing his own ball will reveal much more than the first-day debacle. Badds and Day seek redemption after blown foursomes.

__Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk vs. Adam Scott and K.T. Kim.

__American duo might be the sleeper powerhouse of these matches.

__Bill Haas and Nick Watney vs. Geoff Ogilvy and K.J. Choi

__Ogilvy mustache gives him an Inspector Clouseau veneer. Choi, then, is Kato. Bet they solve the mystery of beating U.S. youngsters, who caught a break in halving their first match.

__Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker vs. Y.E. Yang and Robert Allenby

__Two of the nicest guys in American golf show their mean streak. Have to wonder if Stricker is hurting.

Hunter Mahan and David Toms vs. Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel

Why does it seem like America has an advantage in the putting department? Because they do. Like here.

The team that has led after the first day is 6-1-1. No wonder Couples felt no urge to shuffle his deck.

-- *Dave Shedloski