Woods paired with Howell for opening Cup matches

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MONTREAL, Sep 27 (Reuters) World number one Tiger Woods has been paired with good friend Charles Howell III for today's opening foursomes at the seventh Presidents Cup.

The United States duo will take on South Korea's K J Choi and Australian left-hander Nick O'Hern of the Internationals in the last match out at Royal Montreal Golf Club.

Woods and Howell played together on four occasions at the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa, winning twice and losing twice.

''He's a great partner to have because we are friends,'' Howell told reporters at Royal Montreal. ''Maybe in a sense I see Tiger in a little different light. I see him around home and I see him a little bit away from the golf course.

''I feel comfortable playing with the guy but I'm sure everyone else on this team would as well.'' Howell has struggled for consistency on the 2007 PGA Tour after a storming start that featured a victory at the Nissan Open and US captain Jack Nicklaus believed he would benefit most with Woods as his first partner this week.

''Charles has probably played not as strong as some of the other guys through the last half of this year,'' Nicklaus said.

''I felt like if somebody was going to pull Charles up, it would be Tiger. After that, my guess is it (the pairing) will be switched around but I want to get Charles off to a good start if possible.'' GREATEST PLAYER Woods's performances at four Presidents Cups do not reflect his status as perhaps the greatest player in history with a win-loss-half record of 10-9-1.

He has especially struggled in the fourball format where he is an uninspiring 2-6-0.

''When you play poorly in this event it is different than what we do every week because, if anything, you just let down yourself and your immediate family and that's about it,'' Woods said.

''Here, it's your team mates, your captain, the assistant captain and everyone supporting you, from all of the wives, girlfriends and everyone here. We are one big team.

''What it boils down to is two guys playing well. You can have personalities that are exactly alike and golf balls that are exactly the same but you go out and play poorly, you get whacked and you get to go home.'' Despite Woods's mediocre record at the Presidents Cup, the US have dominated the competition, winning four times including a thrilling victory in 2005 by 18-1/2 points to 15-1/2 in Lake Manassas, Virginia.

The only success for the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was staged in Melbourne. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 17-17 draw.

REUTERS BJR RN1431

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