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Woods to be paired with Kuchar on first day

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Tiger Woods will link up with his 19th different partner in team play for the United States after being paired with Matt Kuchar for today’s opening fourballs at the Presidents Cup.

Woods and Kuchar will take on the long-hitting International combination of Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and Australian Marc Leishman in the fifth match out at Muirfield Village Club.

Many had expected Woods to be reunited with Steve Stricker, with whom he has gelled superbly in the past, though the pair failed to spark together in last year’s Ryder Cup against Europe.

While giving Woods his 19th different partner at either the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, U.S. captain Fred Couples said on Wednesday he had always intended to send out the 14-time major champion in the fifth match.

“We felt like Woods would be good in the five slot, and that’s almost where we had him from the get-go to clean up and hopefully get a point for us,” Couples told reporters after he and his opposite number Nick Price had announced their pairings.

There were no major surprises in either of the captain’s selections on Wednesday, with both teams pairing up good friends and regular practice partners in a bid to make a fast start in the biennial competition.

In the top match, Americans Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker will take on Australian Jason Day and Canada’s Graham DeLaet, with Masters champion Adam Scott and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama next off against good buddies Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley will resume their electrifying partnership from last year’s Ryder Cup when they play against long-time pals and fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in the third match of the day.

American veteran Steve Stricker and 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth will meet South African Ernie Els and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge while PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson face two more South Africans, Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, in the bottom match.

Presidents Cup

WHEN: Thursday to Sunday

WHERE: Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio

TV: Golf Channel (Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.) and NBC (Saturday, 5 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.)