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Pairings poser for Tiger Woods

Jack Nicklaus will try to solve a mystery that has befuddled U.S. Presidents Cup captains for eight years when he unveils who will partner world number one Tiger Woods.

Despite being the world's top player and a fan of the match play format, Ryder and Presidents Cup competitions have seldom brought out the best in Woods or his many playing partners.

Woods has had 14 different partners in U.S. teams and could add to that list when Nicklaus announces his pairing for this week's Presidents Cup starting on Thursday with six foursome matches at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

Nicklaus asked each of his players to write down who they wanted to partner for the foursome and four-ball matches and the answers all came back the same.

"They all put Tiger," Nicklaus told reporters on Tuesday. "We had Tiger put down who he wants to play with and he put down a smiley face.

"I think we are pretty well organised where we think we are going to be.

"What you do is you make a really nice plan for the first day and then you've got a really nice plan for the second day and then you panic the third," he said.

"That's basically what we all do scrambling to find out who has played well who has not played well and you throw away all of the things you've thought about for the last six months and do something else."

Woods would not reveal his partner but indications are that the U.S. Masters and British Open champion will play with Fred Couples.

Couples, who partnered Woods at the 1998 Presidents Cup in Australia, played a practice round with the world number one on Tuesday and let it slip that he was looking forward to playing with him again.

"I did play with Tiger in Australia and it was truly, truly a treat," Couples said. "I think I'm looking forward to that.

"I think sometimes it's harder when you know that all you have to do is help a little bit...all you've got to do is relax and play and sometimes that's hard to do.

"With Tiger if you can just help a couple of holes, you're going to be ok, but that's what team golf is all about."

Finding someone to bring the best out of Woods has been proved troublesome.

In four-ball play at the Presidents Cup Woods has yet to come out a winner in six matches but has a perfect 3-0 record in singles.

His Ryder Cup record is only slightly better, 3-5 in four- ball competition and 2-5-1 in foursomes.

At last year's Ryder Cup, Hal Sutton partnered his top two players, Woods and Phil Mickelson, and the result was a staggering failure.

"I've had some great times with my partners trying to go out there and win points," said Woods, who said Couples and Jim Furyk were his preferred partners.

"Unfortunately, I haven't won as many points as I'd like to and help the team out but I go out there and play as hard as I can with all my partners.

"If my partner makes a bunch of birdies we're going to have a great time."


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