Golf-Nicklaus leaves it to Woods to find perfect match

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MONTREAL, Sep 26 (Reuters) US captain Jack Nicklaus has given up trying to find the perfect match for Tiger Woods after three Presidents Cups and he will leave it to the world number one to decide who he wants to partner.

Finding someone to play alongside the world's best player would on the surface appear easy but some of golf's greatest thinkers have been unable to unlock the mystery behind Woods's mediocre record in team competition.

While few would relish their chances going head-to-head against Woods, who is 6-2-1 in singles play at the Presidents and Ryder Cup, the 31-year-old's record in four-ball and foursomes does not strike the usual fear into his opponents.

His Presidents Cup record certainly does not reflect his status as perhaps the greatest player ever to have picked up a golf club, posting a mark of 10-9-1 over four events. In five Ryder Cups his 10-13-1 record is even less impressive.

The fourball format has posed a particular problem for Woods in Presidents Cup play where he is an uninspiring 2-6.

CHANGING PARTNERS ''Tiger's record in four-ball is not particularly good,'' Nicklaus told reporters yesterday. ''I think he won a match in Washington and we almost gave him a party.

''I think Tiger has asked to play with three different players.

''I'm going to try and honour that wish if I can, three different ways.

''But if I find he plays really well with one of them, I'm probably going to stick with that for a second time around.'' World number three Jim Furyk, who partnered the world number one with some success at the 2005 Presidents Cup, and world number four Steve Stricker, who enjoyed obvious chemistry with the 13-times major winner at the recent BMW championship, are both likely to be included on the short list.

According to Nicklaus, there is no shortage of players lining up for a chance to partner the American. He reckons all 11 other members of the squad probably wrote down Woods's name when asked who they would like to partner.

''I did what I said I was going to do last night and had the fellows come in and write down who they would like to play with,'' Nicklaus said.

''I think Tiger is an intimidating player. I'm not sure that intimidation doesn't even go to his partners.

''But I think that most of them feel more comfortable now, 11 other players probably put down Tiger as one they would like to play with.'' REUTERS BJR BD1105

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