Internationals Rally for Lead

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GEORGE, South Africa -- Masters champion Mike Weir and Nick Price twice overcame 2-down deficits on Thursday to defeat the American team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms, 1-up, on the first day of the Presidents Cup.
 
The International team took a 3 1/2 - 2 1/2 lead, a welcome change from the 2000 Presidents Cup when the Americans swept all five foursomes matches on Thursday morning.
 
The International team of Retief Goosen and PGA Tour money leader Vijay Singh handled United States rookies Chris DiMarco and Jerry Kelly, 3 and 2, in the second foursomes, or alternate-shot, match at The Links Course at Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estates.
 
Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III earned the most decisive point on Thursday. The American duo dusted Stuart Appleby and K.J. Choi of the International team, 4 and 3 in the anchor match.
 
Davis Love III and Kenny Perry, with a combined seven wins on the PGA Tour in 2003, handled Peter Lonard and Tim Clark of the International team, 4 and 2.
 
The other two matches saw the American team take a lead into the closing holes only to squander it. U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard, who teamed up last week in a tie for fifth place at the WGC-World Cup, lost the final three holes to fall 1-down to hometown hero Ernie Els and Adam Scott.
 
Jay Haas and Fred Funk, the two oldest players in the competition and captain's picks by American leader Jack Nicklaus, lost the last two holes to earn a halve with Robert Allenby and Stephen Leaney.
 
In the opening match, Mickelson and Toms built 2-up leads twice but were 1-up with two holes to play, thanks to a spectacular bunker shot by Toms on the 16th.
 
At the par-3 17th, Mickelson pulled his shot into the rough while Weir, who overtook Mickelson as the top left-handed player in golf, knocked his tee ball on to the green. Price rolled home his birdie putt to draw even in the match.
 
'We needed something,' said Weir. 'It seemed like we were down all day. Pricey said, 'Get it on the green and I'll make it.' Phil will tell you, for a lefty, that's a tough shot.'
 
On the par-5 18th, Mickelson's second was nearly perfect but the ball trickled down the slope and Toms chipped over the green. Price chipped his team's third to five feet and Weir holed the birdie putt for the unlikely 1-up victory.
 
Another match the Americans seemed to have in hand was the Leonard/Furyk match. They were 2-up with three to play and Scott sank a clutch birdie putt on the 16th to cut the margin to 1-down.
 
Els holed a 20-footer for birdie at the 17th to square the match and once again the 18th at Fancourt stymied the U.S. Furyk's attempt at reaching the green in two sailed into waist-high rough and all Leonard could do was chip it 80 feet from the hole, where they made par.
 
Els closed out the match when he hit the team's third to two feet. The Americans conceded the birdie and the match.
 
'We finished strong,' understated Scott, playing in his first Presidents Cup.
 
Funk and Haas, the oldest team ever in Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup history, were 2-up with two to play. Haas missed the green with his tee ball at 17 and when Funk tried to chip on, his ball hit a rock and went flying backward over his head. Allenby left Leaney with an 18-footer for birdie but Leaney never got to hit the putt as the Americans conceded, squaring the match.
 
Haas once again missed the green, this time at 18 and Funk was unable to play out of the tall grass. Leaney hit a wedge to 12 feet with the team's third and the Americans made bogey the match was over as a draw.
 
Woods and Howell went 1-up on the third hole and never looked back. They got 2-up on the 10th and won the 14th and 15th holes to put the match away.
 
Love and Perry were 1-up after a win at the first and did not fall behind at any point. They were 4-up through 11 holes but Lonard and Clark won Nos. 13 and 14 to cut the lead in half. Love and Perry won the next two holes to earn the full point.
 
Goosen and Singh never built a bigger lead than 2-up until the 13th hole. Three holes later, the Internationals had closed out the excited rookies and it was the only match their side won from start-to-finish.
 
Related Links:
  • Presidents Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup