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The Ryder Cup gets underway today at Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago. (PHOTO: Courtesy of PGA of America)

Dynamic Duo: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker can boost Team USA

MEDINAH, Ill. - One is the greatest golfer of his generation, and perhaps of all-time.

The other is a soft-spoken deer hunter from Edgerton.

On the course, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker should have nothing in common. Off the course, they surely don't. Yet the 36-year-old with 14 major championships and the 45-year-old with three John Deere Classic titles have developed a partnership Felix and Oscar could appreciate.

"We are friends and we get along with one another and we have a good time with one another," said Stricker, who lives in Madison. "It's always fun to go out with a friend. It's a good time and there's a lot of fun, and like I say a lot of pressure to go along with it but we have a good time with it."

The two have represented the United States in four different team competitions – the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Presidents Cups and the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Fred Couples was the first American captain to pair the two at the 2009 Presidents Cup at Harding Park in San Francisco. There was immediate chemistry, as they went 4-0 in helping the U.S. to a 19 ½ - 14 ½ victory over the International squad.

Not wishing to mess with a good thing, 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin paired them at Celtic Manor in Wales. The duo went 2-1 in a one-point U.S. loss. They beat Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher in fourball and Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson in foursomes.

Their first defeat was an ugly one however, a 6 & 5 demolition at the hands of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Couples began the 2011 Presidents Cup pairing them as well, but after Adam Scott and K.J. Choi handily won 7 & 6 in final match of the morning foursomes, Couples shook things up. While the U.S. won the tournament easily, Woods and Dustin Johnson went 1-2 while Stricker and Matt Kuchar went 1-1.

Despite to bad losses in their last two matches together, Woods and Stricker are 6-2 overall together and U.S. captain Davis Love III couldn't help but send the duo off to finish today's foursomes matches.

"They play very well together," Love III said. "So, again, I didn't go back and study Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker's record before I put them together. They wanted to play together and they have done pretty well together, so going to let them go."

In nine team competitions from 1997 to 2009, Woods had amassed an unspectacular and puzzling 14-22-1 record with a variety of partners. In comes Stricker and a complete turnaround.

"Yeah, I don't know why guys have struggled," Stricker said. "You know, I've enjoyed playing with him. We've had a good time. We've had some good matches, and we've gotten beat up a couple of times, too. But it's always fun. We get along very well together."

Added Woods: "We know each other's game, and we practice a lot together at tournaments. We play practice rounds together. We're very comfortable out there. We know what to expect from each other. There are no hidden surprises out there for us. We've been through a lot of matches together and have played a lot together, so we're fine."

This tournament is golf's ultimate team competition, and the American squad needs its dynamic duo to once again be in top form for a return of the Cup.

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