AAP Golf

Everyone wants to face Tiger at Cup: Els

By AAP Newswire

Ernie Els will search for the International team member with "the look in the eye" before deciding who will stare down Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles of next week's Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

South African great Els, skipper of the International side, admits plenty of team members have put their hand up to face 15-time major winner Woods in the head-to-head finale at the biennial event.

The desperation to face Woods, the American playing captain at Royal Melbourne, is because it could be the last time Woods plays for an American golf team.

Woods turns 44 only weeks after the Cup and has had more trouble than ever battling injuries related to the four back surgeries he's undergone.

Remarkably, Woods captured a first major in 11 years at the Masters in April, his fifth green jacket, before a record-equalling 82nd US PGA Tour win at the recent Zozo Championship in Japan.

Els is trying not to think about the potentially momentous occasion, but is already getting asked.

"I'm really focused on the first couple of sessions; we've got a lot of golf to play before the singles," said Els ahead of his second Australian Open appearance, having finished third in 2001.

"I'll analyse how the guys are playing and see who's really got the look in the eye.

"A lot of guys have put their hands up to play Tiger, but there's going to be a lot of discussion.

"(Some) have never competed against Tiger and the youngsters look up to him (and) definitely want to have a piece of him."

Woods has often chosen the local star to duel when the Presidents Cup has travelled outside the US.

He famously asked to play Greg Norman at Royal Melbourne in 1998, beating him on the final hole while the American team suffered their only loss in the Cup's 25-year history.

Woods smashed Els in South Africa in 2003 before losing to Canadian Mike Weir at the 2007 edition in Montreal.

He then thrashed Australia's Aaron Baddeley at Royal Melbourne in 2011.

There is a strong chance Woods will want to take on homegrown star Adam Scott, the best-ranked player among the Internationals.

Scott and Woods have never faced off in the Presidents Cup singles.

But former world No.1 Scott would welcome the challenge.

"It'd be great to stick it to Tiger and the entire American team," Scott said.

"He's the ultimate competitor; there's no way he's not doing everything possible coming down here as a captain, and a player, to win this event.

"There's no way he wants to be captain of a losing US team.

"It's going to be very difficult but we have to believe we can beat him and I believe we can win next week."