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USA As Expected

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Tiger Woods and David Duval matched expectations this week by convincingly capturing the World Golf Championships-EMC World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
 
Playing Sunday's alternate-shot format, Woods and Duval carded a 4-under-par 68 at the Buenos Aires Golf Club to better local favorites Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera by three strokes at 34-under.
 
Woods and Duval successfully defended the title the former won with good friend Mark O'Meara a year ago in Malaysia. The dynamic duo will split the $1 million first-place prize. Not only was the American's triumph the second in as many years, it was also the country's 23rd victory in the event's 46-year history.
 
Paraguay's team of Carlos Franco and Esteban Isasi carded the round of the day, a 5-under-par 67, to finish in third place at 23-under, eight shots behind runner-up Argentina, who scrambled to a 4-under 68 on Sunday.
 
New Zealand, who played in the final foursome with the Americans, tied for sixth following a disastrous final-round 80. Greg Turner and Frank Nobilo recorded six bogeys and three birdies to go along with a triple-bogey at the par-5 6th and a double-bogey at the par-5 17th.
 
While New Zealand never challenged the U.S. on Sunday, the home team did, if but for a few holes. Playing in the penultimate group, Argentina reduced an overnight three-stroke deficit to a single shot by the turn.
 
The Americans were in total control of the tournament, playing their first eight holes in three-under. But a bogey at the par-5 9th, combined with an Argentine eagle at the same hole, cut the Yanks' advantage to one stroke entering the inward half.
 
At the 9th, with Romero having already rolled in an eagle putt, Duval hit his tee shot into the right hazard. The ball was dry, but nestled directly at the bottom of a four-foot slope. Rather than taking a drop, Woods took the heroic route and tried to chop the ball back into the fairway. His plan backfired. The ball never made it over the top of the bank and rolled into the neighboring water.
 
'I took the club back on my left foot - I flinched,' Woods later said. 'I hit it fat and made it airborne.'
 
Now forced to take a drop, Duval played the team's fourth shot safely onto the green. From there, both men each used one swipe of the putter to card a bogey six.
 
Unfazed, the Americans were able to regain a two-shot lead when Tiger dropped a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 11th. The lead quickly became three shots when, just moments after Tiger's lengthy birdie, Romero hit his tee shot on the par-4 13th into a hazard. The resultant bogey was the first of two in a row, which ultimately led to the home team's demise.
 
Leading by four at 33-under-par, the U.S. collected one more stroke-to-par at the 14th, and then parred in for a comfortable victory.
 
'David was 32-under and I was 2-under,' Woods jokingly said. 'He played beautifully.'
 
Said Duval: 'This was even more fun than I imagined it would be when Tiger asked me to partner with him. The fans were amazing.'
 
This win marks the end of an exhaustive eight-week trek around the world for Woods. Tiger's travels began in October at the Presidents Cup. He then went from Virginia to Orlando (NCR Classic) to Atlanta (Tour Championship) back to Orlando (for a little rest) to Spain (American Express Championship) to London (for an exhibition) to Thailand (Johnnie Walker Classic) to Hawaii (PGA Grand Slam) to California (Williams World Challenge) and finally to Argentina.
 
'Eight straight weeks travelling around the world has taken its toll and I'm a little worn out, but this has been a fantastic week,' said Tiger.
 
Woods will now take a break from the game. His first event scheduled for 2001 is the Mercedes Championships at the Kapalua Golf Club in Hawaii, the second week in January.
 
Asked if they plan to defend their recently acquired title in Japan next year, Duval said: 'Unless he misses cuts for the next two straight years, he's going to stay ranked No. 1. So it's up to him to (pick) a partner.'
 
Added Woods: 'I would love to team up with David, if everything works out. We'll see what happens.'