Woods-Stricker not a sure thing for Melbourne

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Woods-Stricker not a sure thing for Melbourne


Tiger Woods hits an approach shot during a practice round prior to the start of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Royal Melbourne Golf Course, in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. [AP /YONHAP]

MELBOURNE, Australia - Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, unbeatable in the last Presidents Cup, might not be playing together for every match at Royal Melbourne.

Woods said yesterday he liked what he saw in the practice round from Stricker, who has not competed since Sept. 25 at the Tour Championship because of a neck injury affecting the strength in his left arm.

“Hopefully, we’ll get put out there together,’’ Woods said. “I know that we feel very comfortable with one another and we were talking about it today. There’s a certain comfort level about each other’s games.’’

He added, however, that the pairings for the week have not been decided.

“A lot of pairings have not been set in stone,’’ Woods said.

About 15 feet away on a different podium, Dustin Johnson said he would not be playing with Phil Mickelson as they did at the Ryder Cup last year in Wales because “we do better playing against each other.’’

That was a reference to the money games they play at the majors and other big events, always against each other. Johnson and Mickelson lost both their Ryder Cup matches, neither one reaching the 17th hole.

Asked about playing with Woods, Johnson said, “That’s a possibility.’’

“I don’t know if we’re supposed to be saying who we are playing with yet,’’ he said. “Obviously, me and Tiger will be a great team if we do play together.’’

Ultimately, it’s up to U.S. captain Fred Couples.

Woods has had 17 partners in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup over the years, but he has played only with Stricker the last two cups. They have lost only one match, last year in Wales.

While it might seem as though it took a long time for Woods to find the right partner in these competitions, it appears that Johnson is the one who isn’t an easy fit.

Stricker, meanwhile, could easily partner with someone like Hunter Mahan.

If that’s the case, it likely would be in foursomes, which could still leave intact the formidable Woods-Stricker tandem for fourballs.

It was Geoff Ogilvy who said two years ago about that partnership, “You’ve one guy who hits every fairway and makes every putt, and his partner is Tiger Woods.’’

Woods only faced two questions about possibly playing Adam Scott, giving him a reunion with caddie Steve Williams two weeks after his racial comment while being roasted at a caddies award dinner.

“It’s already done,’’ Woods said about the ongoing saga. “I addressed it last week and I said life goes forward, not backward.’’

And there was only one mention of him being a captain’s pick, despite not having won in two years.

“I’m just grateful to be honest,’’ Woods said. “Fred could have picked anybody, and I’m thankful that he had faith in me to be a part of the team and wanted me to be a part of the team. A lot of the players wanted me on the team, as well. So that part definitely did feel good.’’

It helps that Woods is coming off a third-place finish in the Australian Open last week, his best outcome of a short year because of injuries.

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