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Yang criticizes greens at Royal Melbourne

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)

Y.E. Yang, the 2009 U.S. PGA champion, says the greens at Royal Melbourne are unfair, the first player on either Presidents Cup team to even remotely criticize the course.

''I don't know what Royal Melbourne has done, but these are probably the toughest greens I've ever played on,'' Yang said through an interpreter. ''If you just lose your focus for a split second, you can make bogey or double or triple.''

''I want to say they are unfair, really, because they seem unfair to me. If you go into just a little bit of a tricky position, all hell breaks out. That's what I've experienced for the past two days.''

His playing partner on Thursday will be fellow South Korean K.T. Kim. They'll play Americans Hunter Mahan and David Toms in foursomes.

Unlike Yang, Kim said he was ''impressed'' by the firm greens at Royal Melbourne, which he played for the first time six years ago in an amateur tournament.

Kim said he'll play 12 events on the U.S. PGA Tour next year, following Yang and Presidents Cup teammate K.J. Choi to America.

''K.J. and Y.E. are helping me out a lot and I'll just follow the path that they went,'' said Kim. ''I want to say thank-you to them ... they are like a big brother to me.''

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YOUNG AND OLD: It'll be Ernie Els, the most-experienced and nearly the oldest on the International team, playing with the youngest, Japanese 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, when the Presidents Cup gets under way on Thursday.

Els was a member of the winning 1998 International team at Royal Melbourne and a three-time winner of the Heineken Classic on the same course, including shooting a 60 while winning in 2004.

On Wednesday, captain Greg Norman named Els and Ishikawa, who only arrived at the course Tuesday, as his opening group in the foursomes, or alternate

''We knew Ryo got in late and only had one practice round,'' Norman said. ''Ernie shot 60 around this golf course so he knows how to play Royal Melbourne. He has a lot of experience here. The two of them are communicating extremely well.''

Els isn't quite the oldest on the International team - his South African teammate Retief Goosen is eight months older, although they are both now 42 - but Norman figures his track record at Royal Melbourne will help Ishikawa, who's playing here for the first time.

''A bit of experience for a guy who has come in as a rookie on Royal Melbourne, which is going to help him more, especially on alternate shot,'' Norman said. ''So Ernie telling him to where to position the ball on the fairway for where Ernie wants to play his second shot in; so it was a natural pairing as far as we could see it.''

Ishikawa is used to being around an older guy at the Presidents Cup. In 2009, after celebrating his 18th birthday a few weeks earlier, Ishikawa beat then 49-year-old Kenny Perry 3 and 2 in singles on the Sunday.

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WARBLING WATSON: It's not destined to be a YouTube sensation, but Bubba Watson said Wednesday he enjoyed himself at the Presidents Cup gala when he was asked to dance by Australian singer Delta Goodrem.

The American danced with Goodrem, and even tried to sing a few notes. When they duet was finished, Goodrem went over and kissed Watson's wife, Angie.

''With that music, obviously I didn't sing very well,'' Watson said. ''It was fun she called me out of the crowd. I was a little nervous, but stayed out of her way enough. She sounded pretty good.''

Watson and Webb Simpson will lead the Americans out on Thursday in the first fourballs match against the International's Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa.

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LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Jim Furyk, a veteran of six Presidents Cup events, won't openly offer advice to his teammates unless asked. He's not the same with media who he feels asks ''negative'' questions.

Furyk hasn't won on the PGA tour this year and has dropped in the rankings from No. 6 at the Ryder Cup last year to 39th.

''I've had a couple of young guys come up and ask questions about the tournament and I've offered some advice,'' Furyk said after being named with Phil Mickelson to play Retief Goosen and Robert Allenby in the fourballs on Thursday.

''There's a right way to do that and also maybe over coaching or getting in the way. I'm relatively quiet by nature and I try to lead by example a little bit more and I try to answer questions when I'm asked.''

But Furyk bristled when asked by a journalist whether he felt under pressure because of his experience to get a point on the first day.

''You guys have such a negative attitude,'' he said. ''Next time let's try a positive question. We are all under pressure to try to provide a point, no more as being the first one out or last one out or experience or inexperienced member.''

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COIN FLIP FIASCO: The plan for the American team was to win the coin toss for who had the opening pick for pairings, then defer to the International team.

One problem.

There was no coin toss. Instead, the United States had the choice as defending champion, and deferred.

International captain Greg Norman went first in 2009 at Harding Park because, as U.S. captain Fred Couples explained, he was the visiting captain. But now the defending champion gets the choice, and Norman had to pick first again.

Norman countered by naming Tim Clark and Frank Nobilo to be the first team out - those are his assistant captains. Couples thought for a moment and said his team would be Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Tagged: Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishikawa, Tim Clark, Bubba Watson, Greg Norman, Ernie Els

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