Vijay Singh seemed somewhat surprised on Thursday when the Americans conceded a putt in foursomes that allowed him and Mike Weir to halve their match with Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin and give the International team their only entry on the scoreboard at the Presidents Cup that day.
Whether Singh would have sunk that four-footer or not was academic as the Internationals went into Friday four-ball play. In order to come back from that seemingly insurmountable 5 to lead, a quick start to the second day was absolutely critical.
We had a good talk on the bus coming over, said Singh. We just wanted to get some points up there. I mean, five points down on the first day, our morale wasnt very good at the dinner last night.
That quick start was easier said than done at that point.
The top three players in the world filled out the first two American teams. Undoubtedly, the dream team of the day was world No. 1 Tiger Woods paired with his familiar match play partner Jim Furyk against Singh and Stuart Appleby, who lost a four-ball match to that American pair at the 2005 Presidents Cup.
Things were about to change as Singh continued with the style that saw him hole out on the short side from the bunker on the 15th hole the day before. This time, he set the tone for the match by holing out on the first from the sand and continuing his magic on six where he holed out from the fairway for an eagle.
When the final damage was done, Singh was eight-under on the day and Appleby carried his end of the deal by going five under, including an eagle on the 12th hole, to beat Woods and Furyk 5 and 4, Tigers most lopsided loss in match play as a professional.
It couldnt have come at a better time for the Internationals. Singh and Appleby were the first to record a win as their team won four, halved another and lost one to narrow the overall score to 7-5 going into Saturdays combined four-ball/foursomes action.
We wanted to put some point up there early and give the guys something to look up to and give them some sort of boost, said Singh, who returns to foursomes action tomorrow with Weir against Lucas Glover and Scott Verplank. Stuart played great as well. He drove the ball beautifully, took a lot of pressure off me and we just molded perfect. When I was out of the hole, he was in. We played some good golf. If you look at it, 5 and 4 looks very comfortable, but we had to work on every shot out there. It wasnt easy at all.
With Fridays victory, Singh now has seven four-ball victories, which ties him for the all-time Presidents Cup lead with Davis Love III. Singh is now 7-5-1 in four-ball play, but he downplayed the win over Woods.
Our main goal was to go out there and get that one point, he said. The captain produced the teams according to the numbers and not according to who we were going to play, so whoever we got, we were going to play them as a one-pointer.
It was a good statement in one respect because Tigers playing unbelievable golf and Jim is never out of the hole, so for us to beat them was good, but at the end of the day, it was a point that really mattered.
While Weir agreed with Singh, he did say there was a positive effect on the rest of the team. In this format, anybody can beat anybody, but it does give the team a good boost to win a good match like that. I think, probably, the rest of the team is looking up on the board and we were excited to see that.
Furyk added that going down by two early set the tone. They gave themselves a few more opportunities than we did and they capitalized on them. We were in the hole early and its tough to kind of dig yourself out.
We tried, we gave it a shot and we made some birdies, but they made a few more and a couple of eagles on us. We ran into a tough match today and we didnt make enough birdies.
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Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.