Tiger Woods joins Kuchar as US launches Presidents Cup bid

Top-ranked Tiger Woods and World Golf Championships Match Play winner Matt Kuchar joined forces Thursday as the 10th Presidents Cup began with the United States seeking a fifth consecutive victory.

The Americans have dominated the Cup rivalry against the Internationals, leading 7-1-1 as the biennial team showdown began at Muirfield Village with six four-ball matches on the 54th birthday of US captain Fred Couples.

"It would be fun to win in front of the home fans," Woods said. "Hopefully we can make some birdies and get these people going."

Woods, a 14-time major champion who is 20-14-1 in prior Presidents Cup outings, and eighth-ranked Kuchar, 1-3-1 in his 2011 Cup debut, were set to face Argentina`s 51st-ranked Angel Cabrera, a two-time major winner, and 61st-ranked Australian Marc Leishman.

"Definitely if we play well, we`ve got a good chance of winning," Leishman said. "Me and Angel are excited. We are both playing reasonably well. We`re looking forward to getting a point up on the board first up."

That would be a shock against Woods, the PGA Player of the Year with five titles in 2013 and five career triumphs at Muirfield Village in the US PGA Memorial tournament, and defending Memorial champion Kuchar.

"Having him the number one player in the world to rely on and count on is a great partner to have," Kuchar said.

The Internationals have not led after any session since the second day of the 2005 Cup but have confidence and new energy with seven newcomers on the squad.

"The Internationals need to step up and win this thing," Scott said. "I think it`s crucial we win it this year and make it a real competition. We`ve got a team that can win this week but we can only do it by playing good."

Australia`s Jason Day and Canada`s Graham DeLaet teed off in the opening match against Hunter Mahan and 2012 PGA playoff winner Brandt Snedeker.

World number two Adam Scott, who last April became the first Aussie to win the Masters, and 21-year-old Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama faced 2012 US Open winner Webb Simpson and 2011 PGA playoff champion Bill Haas.

South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, both major winners, were matched against five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, the reigning British Open champion who is the only player to compete in every Presidents Cup, and Keegan Bradley.

"Phil and I are really going to have to play our best," Bradley said. "A lot of great wins among these four players. It should be a great match."

South African Ernie Els, a five-time major winner, and Zimbabwe`s Brendon de Jonge went against the oldest and youngest US players, 46-year-old Steve Stricker and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.

South Africans Branden Grace and Riichard Sterne played Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner in the last matchup of the day.

It takes 17 1/2 points to win the Cup with the four-ball matches followed by six alternate-shot foursomes on Friday, five four-ball and five foursomes matches on Saturday and 12 concluding singles on Sunday.

Singles matches will go to extra holes to determine a winner until one team has clinched the trophy. Should the score finished deadlocked 17-17, as it did in 2003 at South Africa, then the Cup will be shared by both sides.