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Woods to face Poulter at Ryder Cup

Tiger Woods will partner Steve Stricker (left) during the opening fourballs of the 2010 Ryder Cup
Tiger Woods will partner Steve Stricker (left) during the opening fourballs of the 2010 Ryder Cup
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to take on Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher in fourballs at Ryder Cup
  • Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson take on Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in first match
  • United States are defending trophy in October 1-3 event at Celtic Manor
  • U.S. captain Corey Pavin leaves out Jim Furyk from opening fourballs
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(CNN) -- World number one Tiger Woods and his partner Steve Stricker will take on English duo Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher in the opening fourballs of the 38th Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, Wales, on Friday.

United States captain Corey Pavin named Woods and world number four Stricker as his third pairing for the first round of matches in the biennial contest against Europe.

The duo won all five of their matches at the Presidents Cup last year.

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie said Poulter would "relish" his dual with Woods. The Englishman, ranked 16th in the world, is known for his colorful dress on the course and once claimed he would emerge as the main rival to the American's status as the game's top player.

The first match on Friday morning will feature world number two Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for the U.S. against a strong European pairing of third-ranked Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, who won the US PGA Championship last month.

Second up are 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar for the U.S. against Northern Irish duo Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlory.

And after the Woods-Poulter match, U.S. rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton will take on three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and England's Luke Donald.

Video: Tiger feels the heat in Wales

The Europeans are aiming to regain the trophy which was surrendered to the U.S. in Valhalla, Kentucky, two years ago.

The teams will play a set of four fourball and four foursome matches on Friday and Saturday before all 12 players compete over the singles format on Sunday. The winning team will be the first to reach 14 ½ points.

Woods was named as one of Pavin's four captain's picks after failing to qualify automatically for the team following his break from the game in the wake of revelations about his private life.

The 14-time major winner has struggled to reproduce his best form in the sport's most prestigious team event, winning just 10, and losing 13 of his 25 matches.

Mickelson's record is even worse, with just 10 victories from 30 matches and 14 defeats.

Westwood, who has not played since July following a calf injury, has the most impressive pedigree in the event of any player on either team, having racked up 14 wins in six appearances.

"I felt that the honor of hitting the first shot for Europe should go to Lee Westwood," Montgomerie said at the televised opening ceremony.

Perhaps the most surprising selection was Pavin's decision to leave out Jim Furyk from the opening fourballs.

The world number five won the $10m Tour Championship and FedEx Cup last week.

"You have to sit somebody out," Pavin told reporters.

"That's a decision a captain has to make. If you have any better suggestions I'd love to hear them."

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