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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 16:38 GMT

USA prepare to steal the show

Tiger Woods has received £685,000 to play in the World Cup

Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara make their World Cup debuts in Malaysia on Thursday and start as favourites to take the cup back to the United States.

Woods has clinched eight tournaments world-wide this year, whilst 42-year old O'Meara is still to win his first.

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

Woods is understood to have been paid £685,000, with Montgomerie and O'Meara both receiving £187,500.

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," O'Meara said.

"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."

32 nations compete

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.

"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," O'Meara said.

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

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.

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