Wed, 27 Jan 2021

Melbourne - Tiger Woods will juggle his captain's duties with playing for a second day at the Presidents Cup on Friday as the United States attempt to claw back a 4-1 deficit.

The 15-time major winner was the standout player for his team during the opening fourballs on Thursday and he opted to go again with the same partner Justin Thomas.

They were the only winners among the Americans at a blustery Royal Melbourne, beating Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann 4&3.

Woods said he would not have played again if the United States were not so far behind against the Ernie Els-led Internationals, who have had their best start since 2005 as they target a first win in 21 years.

"Yeah," he said when asked if that was the case.

"We have a couple of different options rolling into this entire cup. The guys have known the game plan, different possible options, and this is one of the scenarios."

He will be in the fourth match out, facing South Korea's An Byeong-hun and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, who are paired together for the first time.

Steve Stricker will again assume the captaincy duties while Woods is swinging his clubs.

A crunch heavyweight opening match will see experienced duo Louis Oosthuizen and veteran Adam Scott take on former world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

'Raring to go'

Both the South African and the Australian won their matches on Thursday, while Kuchar is being used for the first time.

Adam Hadwin will hook up with Chilean young gun Joaquin Niemann with the Canadian facing Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay for the second day running after partnering Im Sung-jae to a 1-up win over the American pair on Thursday.

Im will partner Australian Cameron Smith, who did not play the fourballs after getting embroiled in a cheating row with Patrick Reed, who was jeered at the opening tee on Thursday.

They take on Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler, who was a late call up in place of injured world No 1 Brooks Koepka.

Reed is back for a second day, staying in his partnership with Webb Simpson as they try to beat Australia's Marc Leishman and Mexico's Abraham Ancer.

"We're excited about getting out there tomorrow and winning some matches, and turning this thing around," said Woods.

Li Haotong was overlooked for a second day, but Els proclaimed the first Chinese player to make the Presidents Cup team would "be ready to play on Saturday. He'll be raring to go."

"I mean, the guys played well today in their respective pairings, and tomorrow we've got whatever pairings we have. We feel comfortable with them. The guys have practised this way, so going with that process," said Els.

"We've got a long event to go still, and you know, we're loving the golf course. We'd like to get the crowd a little bit louder on our side. It was a little quiet out there today, but hopefully they get going tomorrow."

Out-of-form Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau will sit out for the Americans on Friday.

Results on Thursday from the Presidents Cup round one fourballs at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club (par 71). International team first:

International team 4 United States 1

Marc Leishman/Joaquin Niemann lost to Tiger Woods/Justin Thomas 4&3

Adam Hadwin/Im Sung-jae beat Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay 1-up

Adam Scott/An Byeong-hun beat Bryson DeChambeau/Tony Finau 2&1

Hideki Matsuyama/CT Pan beat Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed 1-up

Abraham Ancer/Louis Oosthuizen beat Dustin Johnson/Gary Woodland 4&3

Draw for Friday's Presidents Cup second-round foursome matches between the International and US teams at Royal Melbourne Golf Club (International team first):

Louis Oosthuizen/Adam Scott v Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar - 02:02

Adam Hadwin/Joaquin Niemann v Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay - 02:15

Marc Leishman/Abraham Ancer v Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed - 02:28

An Byeong-hun/Hideki Matsuyama v Tiger Woods/Justin Thomas - 02:41

Im Sung-jae/Cameron Smith v Gary Woodland/Rickie Fowler - 02:54

Not playing:

International: Li Haotong, CT Pan

US: Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau

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