Luck of draw: Woods vs. Garcia; Fans get an early treat as young stars matched up in second foursome


BROOKLINE, Mass. -- So much for all that talk this week about the slim chance of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia hooking up at The Country Club in the 33rd Ryder Cup.

So much for this being strictly a team event.

All eyes, albeit sleepy ones, will be focused on Woods and Garcia this morning when they play on opposite sides but on the same tees, greens and fairways in the second foursomes match beginning at 7: 45 a.m.

Woods will play with Tom Lehman and Garcia with Jesper Parnevik.

U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw made a joke about how it all took place.

"Well, in this second slot here, Mark James [the European captain] and I met down by the skating pond on No. 3 [hole] and worked this out for y'all," Crenshaw said with a laugh.

In reality, it turned out to be the luck of the blind draw used for all the matches, not to mention the good fortune of the 30,000 fans who will try to watch it in person and the millions more who will watch on television.

"The envelope came out and the pairing came out and kind of everybody shook their head a little bit," recalled Crenshaw.

"It's amazing to me, at least here over in the States, that people really thought we had some control over these pairings, but we don't. It should provide people with excitement the first day."

Woods did his best to downplay the meeting with the 19-year-old from Spain, the second since they dueled from adjacent holes down the back nine at Medinah in last month's PGA Championship.

Woods and Garcia also played a round together at the NEC Invitational in Akron two weeks after the PGA.

"It's not one-on-one," Woods said before yesterday's opening ceremonies. "It's alternate shot, and you only have to hit half your shots.

"It's not what the media is speculating. I know they want to see us play head-to-head. We have to rely directly on our partners now."

Said Lehman: "Obviously, that's a nice one for the fans. Even though it's a team format, Sergio and Tiger going at it is a golf fan's dream."

That match will follow the Cup's opening match, which will see David Duval, the world's second-ranked player behind Woods and the only rookie on the U.S. team, playing with Phil Mickelson against Scotsmen Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie, who is the reigning British Open champion.

It will precede a match between reigning U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart and Davis Love III against Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Padraig Harrington of Ireland.

In the final morning match, Jeff Maggert and Hal Sutton will take on Lee Westwood of England and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland.

James, too, wasn't getting overly excited about the Woods-Garcia matchup.

James had other things to worry about, such as the scattershot play of reigning Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, who'll sit out the morning matches despite having the best overall record (14-8-3) of any participant here.

"I don't attach any particular significance to those players being in the same group," he said.

A few people might disagree, especially the 30,000 expected to show up this morning, sleepy eyes and all.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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