Tiger Woods’ decision to pair himself with Justin Thomas in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge raised a few eyebrows ahead of next week’s Presidents Cup showdown.
Captain of Team USA and with 11 of his 12 players tuning up at his event in the Bahamas, Woods had the job of picking the first round twosomes in the 18-man field with one eye firmly on Royal Melbourne.
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But his picks were in stark contrast to the predictions of a host of experts and were an indication Woods was going to do things his way in his first outing as skipper.
The only pairing which met expectations was that of Patrick Reed and Presidents Cup first-timer Patrick Cantlay, the duo having played together in all three of editions of the Zurich Classic, the only teams event on the regular US PGA Tour.
Thomas partnering with Rickie Fowler, the last man added to the American team, was considered a lock after they won two of their three matches together in 2017 at Liberty National.
Tiger Woods with pair with Justin Thomas in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Woods suggested his pairings in the Bahamas were more about getting his players to have “fun” rather than a precursor to what may happen at the Presidents Cup.
“It’s the end of the year, I know they want to gear up for next week as well, but I want them to have a good time,” Wood said.
“The only time I’m able to do that and pair up guys with friends is the first day.
“It’s great the guys were able to come here and play … to be able to compete, shake off a little rust if they have any, work on some things they are going to need to either win this event or be ready for next week, just be in the competitive flow for two weeks.”
Dustin Johnson was the only member of the USA team not playing in the Bahamas. His spot in the field was taken by Chaz Reavie, who was paired with Presidents Cup bound Matt Kuchar, an indication he was likely to play with Johnson.
The pairings for the opening round of four-ball at the Presidents Cup won’t be announced until next Wednesday.
THE BAHAMAS PAIRINGS
Tiger Woods/Justin Thomas
Rickie Fowler/Tony Finau
Xander Schauffele/Gary Woodland
Bryson DeChambeau/Webb Simpson
Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay
Originally published asTiger wants to have fun before Cup
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