O'Meara happy to play second fiddle

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara make their World Cup debut in Malaysia tomorrow with O'Meara knowing he'll be playing a supporting role to the game's top-ranked player.

Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara make their World Cup debut in Malaysia tomorrow with O'Meara knowing he'll be playing a supporting role to the game's top-ranked player.

Woods has clinched eight tournaments worldwide this year whilst his 42-year Isleworth Estate neighbour in Orlando is still to win a first this season.

The American pair, along with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, have been enticed to Malaysia in a reputed £1million deal to compete at the Mines Resort course in Kuala Lumpur.

Woods is understood to have been paid £685,000 whilst his joint two-time majors compatriot and Monty are getting £187,500 each.

The appearance fee to attract Woods for a first time in Malaysia has guaranteed a four-day tournament sell out though the Mines Resort owners say the sum being handed O'Meara and Montgomerie, is to promote their stunning "Venice of the East" resort complex.

O'Meara ruled himself out of the recent American Express Championship in Spain because of poor form and arrived in Malaysia after finishing 12th in last week's Taiheiyho Masters in Japan.

"It's disappointing not to have won this year after having such a fine year last year," said O'Meara.

"But I haven't played that well this year and I knew there would be a big stretch of travelling at the end of the year, and I've done so much already.

"Then after Payne's death, I just felt like I needed to stay home. I went fly fishing for a few days with my father out near Salt Lake City.

"I didn't play well in Japan - the way I know I can play - and it's been a disappointing year because of that but if I play well here it would be a really good boost going into next year.

"But whilst representing your country is a boost in itself, it also puts you under extra pressure."

The Woods and O'Meara pairing is the standout combination of the 32 nations competing in this year's 45th staging of the event that America has won 21 times.

The pair boast four majors between them and know each others game's as well as each others backyards.

"We've played a lot together back home and we've played a lot of practice rounds together in tournaments but this is the first time we've been teamed up in the World Cup," said O'Meara.

"We've played the Ryder Cup together and we faired 50-50 but I'm looking forward to this week.

"Tiger's had just a phenomenal year. He's a great friend of mine and he's playing the way I think he should be playing and that's how good a player I think he is.

"I just hope that I can hold up my end of the bargain this week and it would be nice to add the World Cup to the Ryder Cup - but there is a lot of good teams here this week and the course is very challenging.

"It's a course that takes time to get to know - even though it's in really good shape - but we are going to have to play good because there are some strong teams here this week that will contend."

Titleholders England are represented this year by Ryder Cup captain Mark James and Peter Baker.

Joining Montgomerie on the Scotland team is Paisley's Dean Robertson, winner of this year's Italian Open title, and making his first appearance for Scotland.

Ireland's hope of repeating their Kiawah Island success of two years ago rest with Dublin pair Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.