Pairs revealed: Who will take on Tiger?
AMERICAN great Fred Couples had Tiger Woods locked in as a Presidents Cup starter when he was "400 in the world", because the 15-time major champion was that good.
And Woods himself had "zero" hesitation inserting himself in to the opening match at Royal Melbourne with expectations the second-ever playing captain, keen to lead from the front, could feature in at least three of the five playing sessions.
In what could be his final tournament in Australia, Woods, 43, paired himself with Justin Thomas for a match-up against Australian star Marc Leishman in the first four-ball match at Royal Melbourne.
Woods said it was important as skipper to get himself on course early so he could watch his team try to kill off any early charge from the fired-up International outfit.
"We had a game plan, who we wanted to start out, and we were committed to putting Justin and myself out there, and that's who we're rolling with," Woods said.
"It was important for me to get out there as a player, but also as a captain, I want to obviously see my guys play. This is my first time as a captain. I want to be able to enjoy that part of it, as well.
"So having my responsibility as a player, I want to get out there and play with Justin, but also as a captain, I want to see my guys play."
Woods had to pick himself on the team after failing to qualify on points despite his historic victory at the Masters in April.
But he had the full support of former USA captain Couples, now Woods' assistant, who said there was never any doubt the former world No.1 would be on the team.
"I picked him when he was like 400th in the world to come down here and play. I picked him three months early and took a bunch of grief for it," Couples said.
"He should be on every team. That's how good he is."
Couples said Woods should play in at least three of the five sessions of play, despite new rules meaning each team member has to play only once before Sunday's singles.
"I think he'll play three times. I know he'll play three days," Couples said.
Leishman looms as the Internationals' perfect choice as opponent for a dialled-in Woods.
The Australian has played with Woods on several occasions, including the opening two rounds at the Masters in 2018 when the Australian lapped up the extra attention.
The Victorian outplayed Woods over the two days at Augusta and was second going into the weekend before he finished ninth. Woods tied for 32nd.
Leishman said he was embracing his leadership role in his fourth Presidents Cup team too, which contains seven first-timers, and was looking forward to making an opening statement for his team.
"I've been on three losing teams. One was very close, but two of them weren't. I know the older guys on the team - everyone really wants to win," he said.
"We've been on the wrong side of it quite a few times, and we want to turn that around. We feel like it's a good place to do it. "
PRESIDENTS CUP DAY ONE FOUR-BALL MATCHES
Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann (Internationals)
Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas (USA)
Adam Hadwin and Sungjae Im (Internationals)
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (USA)
Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An (Internationals)
Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau (USA)
Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan (Internationals)
Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed (USA)
Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen (Internationals)
Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland (USA)