Woods hopes for comfort in Stricker pairing
NEWPORT, Wales – When the worst-kept secret of the Ryder Cup buildup was made official, Tiger Woods had his 12th different partner in this biennial competition.
Previously, Woods had played alongside Jim Furyk (four times), Mark O’Meara (three), Davis Love (three), Phil Mickelson (two), Steve Pate (two), and Chris Riley, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia, Paul Azinger, Justin Leonard and David Duval all once.
It’s no secret that his team record (7-12-1) is not very good, but with Stricker, the hope is Woods finds a comfort zone in a fashion that has always worked for the Europeans (Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood).
What could help Woods is the fact he’s not facing Europeans who’ve given him fits. In matches that have involved Westwood, Woods is 1-5. The others who have fared well against the top American (Colin Montgomerie, 2-3; Darren Clarke, 2-4; Sergio Garcia, 1-3) are European vice captains and not in the lineup.
Instead, Woods will be against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. In his only match involving Poulter (who was paired with Clarke), Woods teamed with Riley to win in four-ball in 2004, 4 and 3. Fisher, of course, is a Ryder Cup rookie.
Woods is 4-6-0 in Ryder Cup four-ball matches, but 2-2 when it opens the competition Friday morning. Overall, he is 2-8 in his first-day matches.
Of course, the number that the Americans are focused on is 4-0 – the record Woods and Stricker compiled in last year’s Presidents Cup.