Poulter in the mood to tackle Tiger in showdown

Ian Poulter, beaten by Tiger Woods in his first ever Ryder Cup match, finally has the chance for revenge at Celtic Manor today.

And it is happening because European captain Colin Montgomerie thinks his opposite number Corey Pavin has moved Woods – without a top-three finish since his sex scandal – out of the main firing line.

"Tiger being hidden is a different move," said Montgomerie, who expected the world No1 to go first or last in the opening fourball session.

"I don't know whether Tiger asked for that."

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Whatever the reason, Poulter is simply thrilled and on his Twitter site said: "I've never been so excited to play a Ryder Cup match.

"Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker v Poults and Fish (Cup newcomer Ross Fisher). The house is about to come down!"

Poulter, who with Darren Clarke was crushed 4&3 by Woods and Chris Riley in Detroit six years ago, will this time be with his World Cup partner and the other current holder of a World Match Play title.

That was no surprise and nor was the fact that Tiger has been paired with Stricker. They won four points out of four at last year's Presidents Cup.

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But the fact remains that Woods, who missed the 2008 clash through injury, led America off on his three previous appearances.

Asked how much Poulter will be relishing the prospect European captain Colin Montgomerie said: "Ian relishes every prospect.

"He left the stage (at the opening ceremony) anxious to get going. He can't wait for 8.15am."

The 38th contest and the first on Welsh soil begins at 7.45am with Lee Westwood and German rookie Martin Kaymer – the two highest-ranked players on the home side – against Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

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Westwood, returning to the game after seven weeks recovering from a torn calf muscle, urged Montgomerie to start with him.

"I feel the honour should be given to Lee and him asking for that position gave me no option," the captain said.

Mickelson, who next Monday will lose the world No2 spot to the Worksop golfer, has met Westwood four times before. He has lost two, halved one and won only once.

Pavin denied he had moved Woods because a defeat for him in the first match would give Europe the momentum.

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"I thought Phil and Dustin are playing great golf," said Pavin.

"Phil likes to get out there and Dustin has been chomping at the bit too."

Kaymer, golf's newest major champion, becomes the first European debutant to play in the opening clash since Scot Paul Lawrie – Open champion at the time – partnered Montgomerie in Boston 11 years ago.

Next comes Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.

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The Northern Ireland duo were many people's choice to start things off, mainly on the back of winning all three times they played there for Britain and Ireland last year.

But Montgomerie insisted that the final decision on that was because of Westwood rather than an attempt to move McIlroy out of the way of Woods following the attention given this week to a first duel between the two.

"No, it wasn't that at all," said Montgomerie. "I don't make any statement regarding that, but I think it's good actually that Rory can get a game under his belt without Tiger Woods.

"I think it will happen."

Bringing up the rear for Europe, as widely predicted, are Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington, two of Montgomerie's three hotly-debated wild card choices.

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They will play Mickelson's fellow left-hander Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, both cup rookies that maybe American captain Corey Pavin thinks will be able to handle fourballs better than the one-ball foursomes.

It nevertheless surprised Montgomerie again.

"Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington would not have expected to play two rookies in the last game. It's an important game," he said.

Left out by Montgomerie, but ready to play in the afternoon, are Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, Swede Peter Hanson and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Pavin omits Zach Johnson, McIlroy's fellow 21-year-old Rickie Fowler and the pair all the European team probably expected to fill the anchor role before lunch, Hunter Mahan and Sunday's 7m man Jim Furyk. They will also now be expected to enter the action in the foursomes.


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Draw and tee-off times for the opening fourballs of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, this morning (Europe names first):

0745: Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer v Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson

0800: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy v Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar

0815: Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher v Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods

0830: Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington v Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton