Lefty vs Lefty on Day 1 of Presidents Cup

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MONTREAL -- Roughly 30 percent of Canadian golfers play left-handed. In Quebec, the figure is about 40 percent. On Thursday in a Presidents Cup match, it will be an even 50 percent when Phil Mickelson and Canadian star Mike Weir tee it up.
 
International captain Gary Player wasn't thinking about that Wednesday when he placed Weir -- like Mickelson a natural right-hander who swings left-handed -- and Vijay Singh opposite Mickelson and Woody Austin in the second foursomes match.
 
'Never even thought of it. Never even came across my mind,' Player said. 'The little golf ball doesn't know whether you're a lefty or a righty.'
 
The matchup had everything to do with Weir's record against Mickelson in Presidents Cup play and the International team's desire to put the Canadian in an early match.
 
'We want Mike to be in a position to be an inspiration,' International assistant captain Ian Baker-Finch said. 'It's better to have Mike Weir out there early. Mike Weir feels like he has Phil's number.'
 
While Player set up the left-handed match, U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus played a big role, too -- more than 20 years ago. At 13, Weir wrote to Nicklaus asking whether he should switch to right-handed. Nicklaus replied that there was no reason to change.
 
'I think the Canadians love left-handed golfers,' said Mickelson, aware many natural Canadian right-handers swing left-handed after first doing it in hockey.
 
'I think we're going to have a fun match. Mike Weir and Vijay Singh form such a great team and are going to have the home crowd.'
 
Weir is 4-1 against Mickelson, including a 4-and-3 singles victory in 2000.
 
'I've had some great success against Phil,' Weir said. 'In 2000 in singles, I just played great, shot 6 or 7 under. ... Obviously, whoever plays the best will win, but I think Vijay and I will be a good team.'
 
Weir last faced Mickelson in 2003, too far back for Mickelson to recall clearly.
 
'I think he beat me in singles. Did he beat me?' Mickelson asked.
 
Mickelson was told Weir did and was 4-1 against him.
 
'Against me?' Mickelson said 'Well, there you go. They have to keep riding that out until me or we are able to change that. We'll see if we can do that.'
 
Tiger Woods will open with Charles Howell III against K.J. Choi and Nick O'Hern in the final group of the day, a match that isn't scheduled to start until 2:05 and might be in danger of being suspended because of darkness.
 
'I think that Charles has probably played not as strong as some of the other guys through the last half of the year this year,' Nicklaus said. 'So, I felt like if somebody was going to pull Charles up, it would be Tiger. ... After that, my guess is it will be switched off, but I want to get Charles off to a good start if possible.'
 
Instead of playing alongside Woods, Jim Furyk ended up with David Toms in the fourth match against Ernie Els and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera.
 
'The way Angel hits the ball, I think everybody wants to play with him,' Els said. 'I've known Angel for a very long time, too. We've both played on the European tour, so I've played with him a lot, and hopefully I can work on my Spanish this week.'
 
Unlike the Ryder Cup where the captains submit the entire lineup each day, the Presidents Cup matches are determined one at a time.
 
After Nicklaus deferred on the first pick, Player put Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott on the board and Nicklaus countered with Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan. Nicklaus then went with Mickelson and Austin and Player selected Weir and Singh.
 
'This is so much better than the Ryder Cup format because it's fun. It's a shame that you don't have the audio,' Baker-Finch said. 'Our team is delighted. We got three or four of our objectives and normally you only get two.'
 
In the third match, Masters champion Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink will play South Africans Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini.
 
American Scott Verplank, back at Royal Montreal for the first event since he won the 2001 Canadian Open on the Blue Course, will team with Lucas Glover in the fifth match against Stuart Appleby and Retief Goosen.
 
Related Links:
  • Day 1 Match-Ups
  • United States Report Card
  • International Report Card
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup