Norman plays peacemaker

2011-11-16 12:26

Melbourne -Tiger Woods will face Adam Scott in an intriguing match-up at the Presidents Cup two weeks after a racial slur by the Australian's caddie, who used to carry the former world number one's bag.

The lead-up to the biennial teams event between the Internationals and the United States, beginning on Thursday, has been abuzz with the prospect of Woods having to play in the company of caddie Steve Williams.

Williams worked with Woods for 13 of his 14 major titles before being sacked earlier this year and in an indication of the acrimony surrounding the break-up, Williams earlier this month referred to Woods as a "black arsehole".

He subsequently apologised to Woods for the comment made at an awards dinner in Shanghai and they shook hands.

Internationals captain Greg Norman said he wanted to get the match, the last of Thursday's opening day foursomes, out of the way but said that it was "great for the tournament".

The non-playing captain said it was important to defuse the situation.

"I'm sure Freddie (Fred Couples, the US team captain) and I, everybody, we want to put this behind us. It's a dead issue as far as we are concerned," Norman said.

"Adam and Tiger are good friends. It's got nothing to do with them and at the end of the day, the atmosphere that will exist walking to the first tee will be exactly the same it would be if none of this took place."

"I know it's good fodder," he added.

"People like to talk about it in the media. But from our perspective, it's dead and gone, and we would like to keep it that way going forward."

Norman said he thought it better to get it over and done with sooner rather than later.

"So from The Presidents Cup standpoint, I think it's the best move that it played out this way," he said.

A hum greeted Wednesday's pairings announcement by Norman and Couples pitching Woods and Steve Stricker against Scott and South Korea's K.J. Choi.

Woods, who only got into this year's Presidents Cup as the captain's pick after slipping outside the world's top 50, and Stricker won four points in the US win in 2009 in San Francisco.

The 14-time major winner, who has not won a tournament in two years and finished third at last weekend's Australian Open, was unbeaten two years ago.

Scott has a losing 8-10 record at the Presidents Cup, with two matches halved, while Choi has only won one-third of his nine career matches.

"They are probably the best pairing when they are playing," Couples said.

"I think the way Steve's playing, he'll be solid in the alternate (foursomes) shot. Maybe he's a little rusty. He has not played a tournament in six or seven weeks."

In Thursday's other foursomes pairings, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson lead off for the defending champion Americans against South Africa's Ernie Els and Japanese youngster Ryo Ishikawa.

That will be followed by Bill Haas and Nick Watney against Australian Geoff Ogilvy and reigning US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.

American pair Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar then face Australians Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day, while Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are paired to face South Africa's two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa and Australian Robert Allenby.

In the day's penultimate foursome, Americans Hunter Mahan and David Toms take on South Koreans Kim Kyung-Tae and Y.E. Yang.