Ancer to face Woods in Presidents Cup singles

Melbourne (AFP) –


Mexico's Abraham Ancer was handed the task of facing Tiger Woods in the singles at the Presidents Cup on Sunday with the match play showdown poised for a tense finish.

The 15-time major winner won both matches he played with Justin Thomas on the opening two days, but he chose to focus on his captaincy duties during the fourballs and foursomes on Saturday.

With all 12 team members playing singles, the 43-year-old will be back to try and inspire the US to overturn a 10-8 deficit and inflict another demoralising defeat on the Internationals.

The Internationals have only ever won the match play event once, in 1998, also at Royal Melbourne when both Woods and fellow captain Ernie Els were playing.

The first team to 15.5 points will win.

Woods will be first out at 10:02am (2302 GMT Saturday) followed by the composed Japanese Hideki Matsuyama and Tony Finau, who has one PGA Tour victory to his name.

"We figured it would be either Tiger or Justin Thomas (first)," said Els.

"They have been going with that almost all week, and obviously Tiger we thought was going to play early.

"You know, Abraham has been really playing well. He knows the course well. He likes the conditions. Obviously there's great matches all the way through, but that will be a top match, Abraham against Tiger."

Patrick Reed will play Taiwan's CT Pan without his regular caddie, who was banned from carrying his bags after an altercation with a fan on Saturday.

Reed was docked two strokes for improving his lie in sand in the Bahamas last week and has been taunted by sections of the crowd in Melbourne with caddie Kessler Karain admitting he shoved one of them on the course.

Woods said it has always been his plan to only play two matches before the singles.

"We've had different scenarios, different pairings and different things happen. That's just part of playing team matches," he said.

"We've had I think a good formula for this event, and unfortunately we're down 8-10, but we're excited about tomorrow and getting after it."

In other matches, China's Li Haotong has a big task against world number five Dustin Johnson while Canada's Adam Hadwin, who has been struggling with illness, faces out-of-form Bryson DeChambeau.

South Korean 21-year-old Im Sung-jae takes on Gary Woodland while Chilean hot-shot Joaquin Niemann meets Patrick Cantlay.

Veteran Adam Scott will conclude his ninth Presidents Cup against Xander Schauffele, Korea's An Byeong-hun is up against Webb Simpson while Justin Thomas will look to put a disappointing Saturday foursomes behind him against Cameron Smith.

Thomas and Rickie Fowler were five holes up against Ancer and Marc Leishman but collapsed, with the tie halved.

Australian Leishman plays the last match of the day against Fowler, with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen in the penultimate clash against Matt Kuchar.