Weir ready to be thrown to the Tiger

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MONTREAL, Sep 25 (Reuters) US captain Jack Nicklaus is not sure who he would like to see Tiger Woods partnered with at the Presidents Cup but he knows who he would like to see the world number one play against.

''I think it will be great if Mike Weir played Tiger,'' Nicklaus told reporters today. ''I think that would be a great match. I think it's the logical thing to try to do.

''But Mike might not want to play him. I have no idea if Gary (International captain Gary Player) wants to do that or not and I have no idea if Tiger wants to do that. But that's my thought.'' Pairings and matchups -- particularly those involving Woods -- are treated as top secret at the Presidents Cup, the subject of endless debate and speculation ahead of the start of play on Thursday.

The slightest hint that Weir, the hometown hero and only Canadian in the field, could be the man chosen to face down the world's best player in Sunday's decisive singles triggered the first buzz of the week.

Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, has seen his ranking slip to number 46 and gained entry into the event only as one of Player's two captain's picks. But he could provide an intriguing matchup against the world number one.

WELCOME CHALLENGE Considered one of golf's grittiest competitors, the diminutive left-hander has made it clear he is at Royal Montreal Golf Club to provide more than Canadian content and boost local interest, saying he would welcome the challenge of taking on Woods if called upon.

''I definitely look forward to the challenge if that comes to be true on Sunday,'' said Weir, who has had only one win since his Masters victory. ''If I'm playing really well I'd love the chance to play him.

''It might be icing on the cake for me to get a chance to get in there and possibly beat him.'' That task, however, could well fall to an Australian rather than the Canadian, with left-hander Nick O'Hern having beaten Woods twice at the Accenture World Match Play.

''He (Woods) is not much good against left-handers,'' joked O'Hern. ''Whoever plays Tiger is going to have their hands full.'' Despite Nicklaus's prodding, Player would not be backed into a corner by his former playing rival.

While Player refused to show his hand, he did name one person who would particularly relish the opportunity of going toe-to-toe with Woods with a Presidents Cup on the line.

''If I was a young guy I'd be volunteering to play him because it's something I would have loved to do,'' said the 71-year-old Player.

''If I said to the guys, would you like to play Tiger, I'm sure a lot of guys will stand up and I'm quite confident of that.

''We realise Tiger is an incredible golfer and we have a monumental task.'' Reuters KK VP0342

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