Who will tame the Tiger at Presidents Cup?

Tiger Woods has a history of taking on the home-nation hero in singles matches at the Presidents Cup, but Canada’s Mike Weir, a captain’s choice for the Internationals, is not buying into the talk.

United States captain Jack Nicklaus raised eyebrows on Tuesday by suggesting Woods should face Weir, the lowest-ranked global player at 46th, in Sunday’s singles. Since teams alternate assigning men to matches, the pairing could be made.

”I think it will be great if Mike Weir played Tiger this time. I think that would be a great match,” Nicklaus said. ”I think it’s the logical thing to try to do. But Mike might not want to play him.”

But International captain Gary Player might not want the crowd’s emotional favourite matched against the world number one and 13-time major champion when he has a proven ”Tiger Tamer” in Australian Nick O’Hern.

”Mike has gotten progressively better toward the end of the year,” Player said. ”He’s looking very good. I have to talk to the guys. We haven’t gotten as far as the singles yet. That’s a long way away.”

Woods asked to play Greg Norman in 1998 in Australia and beat him, then wanted Ernie Els in South Africa in 2003 and beat him before he and Els staged an emotional play-off duel that was ended by darkness and resulted in a draw.

Southpaw Weir and Woods were famously paired in the last group of the 1999 PGA Championship. Woods went on to win it. Weir cracked under pressure, but learned from it and won the Masters in 2003.

”Sunday is a long ways away,” Weir said. ”We obviously know what he can do. I definitely look forward to the challenge if that comes true on Sunday. Gary will talk about all the possible pairings and see who is playing the best. Anyone who is playing the best will go against him.”

There’s a fighting chance that would be O’Hern, who has twice beaten Woods in the World Golf Championships Match-Play Championship.

”I’ve discussed it with him,” Player said. ”Nothing conclusive, but he has beaten Tiger twice, hasn’t he? Tiger doesn’t worry about things like that. When I go to the guys, ‘Who would like to play Tiger?’ I’m sure a lot of guys will step up.”

O’Hern has said he would enjoy a Woods rematch, but noted that it is only one possible point out of 12 on offer on the final day.

”Whoever plays Tiger is going to have their hands full, but he is just one point,” O’Hern said. ”There are a lot of other matches that are just as important.” — Sapa-AFP

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Jim Slater
Jim Slater
Sports Editor Agence France-Presse (AFP).

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