From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Tiger Woods paired with Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi for first two rounds

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With the dust settled on yesterday’s press conference, Tiger Woods was finally able to turn his attention fully to the golf course. And with that transition came a new line of questions, like “who’s going to be paired with Tiger in the first two rounds?”

That story was just answered, as Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi were given the pleasure (or pain) of playing with Woods in his first tournament in six months. The best part about the news, however, is that the group will be teeing off at 1:42 p.m. EST in a time slot that means his first round will be televised by ESPN.

That’s a huge plus for golf on a day where the tournament will be hoping to draw in as big an audience as possible for the opening round of the tournament. In the end, this really is a win-win for the fans and Augusta National.

So what about the pairing?

Well, I’ve heard from a couple sources that this could be the best pairing possible for Woods. With Woods almost certainly owning the spotlight for at least the first two rounds, Augusta National must have figured it made sense to pair Woods with a couple of low-key guys.

K.J. Choi, one of the straightest hitters on tour, also happens to be one of the most subdued. He rarely speaks, and he almost always keeps his emotions on the inside.

Matt Kuchar, on the other hand, has already played with Woods in the past. While his first round playing with Tiger in 1998 as a amateur will be nothing like Thursday’s first round, don’t forget that he did play with him the year after he won the Masters in record-setting fashion. Tiger’s popularity was red-hot at the time. I guess the tournament committee figured Kuchar — who, like Choi is a very quiet player — would be perfect for this pairing.

While Choi and Kuchar are good players in the their own right, neither has a charisma or charm about them that would take away from the spotlight on Woods. You have to imagine they were thrown into the pairing because they’d blend into the background.

In the end, I think the pairing makes a lot of sense. I doubt either would have a problem playing with Tiger in the first two rounds. And if they did, I’m pretty sure you’d never hear them speak about it publicly.


Written by Jonathan Wall

04/06/2010 at 5:02 pm

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