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Woodland trust

Kuchar chose the perfect ally at the World Cup, says Rob

Rob Lee Posted 30th November 2011 view comments

As we've seen previously in the Ryder Cup, American golfing partnerships are not always the most cohesive.

But Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland formed a very effective team on their way to winning the 2011 World Cup in China.

In the tournament, the highest-ranked player from each nation gets to select his partner and, suffice to say, he will pick a guy he gets on well with. You know the two people that turn out together will be mates. That was definitely the case with Kuchar and Woodland.

American dream team: Woodland (left) and Kuchar claimed the World Cup trophy

American dream team: Woodland (left) and Kuchar claimed the World Cup trophy

It was also an excellent golfing combination; Kuchar is super steady, while Woodland is super long. If they got the holes right in the foursomes - and they obviously did, shooting 67 in the final round - they would be hard to stop.

Tactics are important in foursomes and you have to decide who is going to be the advantageous player.

It doesn't always work out like that as it is an alternate shot game and you can't chose at every tee who will strike first. But you need to have some sort of plan and use it to your advantage. The American boys did that well.

If Kuchar and Woodland make it to the big event in September, the idea of pairing them will be in Davis' head, that's for sure. They've proved they can function both in foursomes and fourballs which could give the American skipper one less headache.

Rob Lee
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Kuchar and Woodland finished on 24-under-par, two shots clear of England's Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, who were excellent in the foursomes on the last day.

Posting a 63 is a tremendous achievement. Foursomes is a difficult concept in match-play, but in stroke-play it can be a tournament buster.

It's a shame it wasn't good enough to win, but Poulter and Rose were just too far back after the fourballs, which is strange because that's where you generally make your birdies.

Big event

I'm sure US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will have looked at the Kuchar-Woodland tandem and thought: 'I can utilise that in Medinah'.

If both men make it to the big event in September, the idea of pairing them will be in Davis' head, that's for sure.

They've proved they can function both in foursomes and fourballs which could give the American skipper one less headache.

By the same token, European chief Jose Maria Olazabal would have glanced at proceedings in China as he weighs up his selection options.

There's no way Alex Cejka will be picked, even though he blended well with Martin Kaymer as Germany tied for second with England, but Ollie will have been pleased with the Rose-Poulter axis, and Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell's performance for Northern Ireland.

Alvaro Quiros also played well alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez for Spain and I think if he was close to qualifying for the Ryder Cup - say 12th to 14th in the standings - he would be considered for a captain's pick.

He is unpredictable but explosive and has the tools to overcome a golf course. The exuberant Quiros and the veteran Jimenez could forge a fruitful partnership for Europe.

I think the World Cup starts out with players thinking: 'This sounds like a good idea, let's jaunt over to China and play'. But I know Poulter and Rose were going over there to win it, the Irish boys were going over there to win it, and the Americans, too.

And as you get further into the tournament, your resolve strengthens. All of a sudden, it's not so chummy-chummy and there's something tangible to be won. Kuchar and Woodland took the event seriously and donned the yellow winners' jackets as a result.

ROB'S SKY BET TIPS

Hong Kong Open: Rory McIlroy lost in a play-off here in 2008 and finished runner up in 2009; the Fanling course is one of his favourites. He'll be licking his chops at the prospect of getting another win and he's my tip (4/1 with Sky Bet) this week even at such a short price. But this event is also about guys scraping together the last few pounds they need to keep their Tour card for next year. It will be a fascinating four days.

Nedbank Golf Challenge: I presume Luke Donald has had a few weeks off after his wife gave birth to their second child, so I don't know how drilled he will be for this event. Of the 12 guys taking part, there is only one American, Jason Dufner, who I think could go well. But I'll plump for Lee Westwood at odds of 10/3. It's a long course, he's got some form under his belt and he would love to keep on winning to catch Donald.

Chevron World Challenge: Tiger Woods is 3/1 with Sky Bet to win this tournament. They seem very short odds, but it is a small field and is taking place on a course he likes. Tiger found form in the Presidents Cup in Australia and played some really good stuff in the final round. The American was pipped to the Chevron Challenge title in a play-off last year by Graeme McDowell, but I think he could go one better this time. For a sneaky each-way bet, I'll say Paul Casey. He looked to be hitting his straps the last time I saw him.

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