In-form Woods opts to sit out Saturday fourballs

Melbourne (AFP) –


Playing-captain Tiger Woods has opted to sit out the Saturday fourball round for the United States at the Presidents Cup despite winning two crucial points so far.

The evergreen 43-year-old, who teamed with world number four Justin Thomas on the opening two days, has been one of the biennial event's best players, but said he cannot do everything.

Instead, Rickie Fowler will join Thomas for the opening clash against Australian Marc Leishman and Li Haotong, who will become the first Chinese golfer to play a Presidents Cup match after being overlooked for the first two days.

"That was kind of the game plan. It would be hard for me to go all the sessions," the 15-time major winner said on why he was not playing again.

"I've been fortunate enough to go out there with JT (Justin Thomas) and we've gotten two points.

"JT played great and Rickie played awesome this afternoon. They have been looking forward to playing with one another. They have had success before, and we'll send them back out."

Ernie Els' International team lead 6.5-3.5 heading into day three.

Woods, who handed captaincy duties to Steve Stricker while playing, could still swing the clubs on a big Saturday that also features four more foursome matches.

The pairings for those are made on Saturday morning, with Woods saying it was only because he had "amazing" vice captains, who also include Fred Couples and Zach Johnson, that he could play at all.

"They have all been there, done that, have seen it, and their commitment to this, I couldn't have done this without them. I wouldn't have accepted this role without them," he said.

The US kept faith with Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay for a third straight tie, with the duo facing South Korea's Im Sung-jae and impressive Mexican Abraham Ancer in the second match out.

Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed are also teamed up for a third time, against Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Taiwan's CT Pan.

Veteran Adam Scott then partners South Korea's An Byeong-hun against Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau.

Els said he was confident his fourball pairings would keep the momentum going as his team chase a first win since 1998.

"I'm just looking at my guys and I want my guys to play as good as they can and get as good a result as they can," he said.

"They have put a lot of work into this and it's been quite a week already."