In the alternate-shot match against Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III, Choi hit his drive so far left that it wound up at the base of a thick shrub.
Appleby decided they should take a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable lie, and he summoned Theo Manyama from the Sunshine Tour to clarify.
Manyama told Choi to take the drop and hit the shot. Appleby assumed the second shot -- which belonged to him -- was the penalty stroke, and Choi would hit the third.
Woods and Howell looked back as Choi was hitting, and questioned whether it should have been Appleby playing the shot.
The Americans were right.
However, since Manyama told them what to do, they were not penalized.
Manyama said he made the ruling because he thought Appleby had hit the tee shot.
Ultimately, it didn't matter.
The International team reached the green in four, while Howell hit his second shot just over the green and Woods' chipped down to 2 feet for a sure birdie.
Manyama, embarrassed by his goof, was at least glad Woods and Howell won the hole outright.
'That was my consolation,' he said. 'I feel sick about this.'
COIN TOSS: South African president Thabo Mbeki, an honorary chairman at the Presidents Cup, was in charge of the coin flip on the first tee to determine whether the U.S. or the International team had the honor to hit first.
As he went to flip the coin, it slipped out of his hand.
Mbeki laughed, looked on the ground and saw it favored the International team.
'Their turn,' he said to Nick Price and Mike Weir, as everyone laughed.
Former President Bush smiled and shook his head.
'I want a recount,' Bush said.
THE BEAR RETURNS: U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus was still suffering from flu-like symptoms Thursday, his voice cracking as he announced his team during the opening ceremony.
Still, he was on the course watching the Americans play, and his pep talk on the eve of the Presidents Cup was a big hit.
'He said, 'This is my last event,' meaning playing or captaining,' Kenny Perry said. 'And that inspired me. I wanted to win. I would rather win this for him than anything because probably this is it. He's going out.'
Nicklaus brushed it off on two accounts.
Asked what was the best thing he could say to a player coming to the 18th hole of a close match, Nicklaus replied, 'nothing.'
'They know where they are. They know what they're doing,' Nicklaus said. 'Do they like support? Absolutely. Saying something, would it make any difference? Just for me, I couldn't see it.'
He also clarified his future.
Nicklaus said he plans to play the Memorial next year, and probably the Masters. He would like to play a PGA Tour event in Florida to make sure his game is in shape.
EYE OF THE TIGER: Charles Howell III has played several practice rounds with Tiger Woods, and they even played against each other in the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur, won by Woods.
They were partners for the first time Thursday, and Howell said he was reminded how badly Woods wants to win.
'As competitive as everyone thinks he is, you can just triple that,' Howell said. 'It's amazing that when the gun goes off on Thursday, he's not the same guy you see on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And that got my attention.'
Howell was the 12th partner for Woods in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and Woods said it was a good pairing.
'I'm a little bit shorter than he is, but that's OK,' Woods said. 'That's just old age.'
Woods (27) and Howell (24) are the youngest two players on the U.S. team.
DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson has changed back to his old blade-styled putter after using the Scotty Cameron Futura during the PGA Tour season. Lefty holed his share of putts, including a 45-footer down the slope on No. 2 for birdie, and a testy 4-footer that gave him and David Toms a 1-up lead on the 16th. ... While the galleries were partisan toward the International team, they were cheering every shot struck by Woods, favoring him over Stuart Appleby and K.J. Choi. That could change Friday, as Woods and Howell are in the final better-ball match against South Africans Ernie Els and Tim Clark. ... The wives of Jim Furyk and K.J. Choi did not make the trip because they are due to give birth in December.
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