Internationals Sweep Fourballs

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GEORGE, South Africa -- The International team swept all six Fourball matches Saturday to turn a three-point deficit into a three-point lead after the third day of the Presidents Cup.
 
The International side leads 12 1/2 - 9 1/2 and swept the Americans in a session for the first time in the competition's history. While the U.S. side has swept a session twice against the International side, Saturday's fourball debacle was the first time the Americans left a round pointless in either the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup since the Friday Fourballs in the 1989 Ryder Cup.
 
When the Americans swept the Internationals at the Presidents Cup, there were only five matches as this year is the first to feature six matches a session. In 1989, the Europeans took four matches, so Saturday's shutout might be the most dominant in an international, team match-play event.
 
'It was a dream day for us, really,' said Nick Price, who has played in all five Presidents Cups for the International side.
 
Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III, the only team on either side to stay intact for all four rounds of competition, fell to the International team of PGA Tour money list champion Vijay Singh and 2001 U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen, 2 and 1.
 
Phil Mickelson's 2003 Presidents Cup record fell to 0-4 Saturday as he and Fred Funk lost to Stephen Leaney and Peter Lonard, 2 and 1, in the opening match.
 
Ernie Els has gone the opposite way of Phil Mickelson. He and Tim Clark beat reigning U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and 49-year-old Jay Haas, 3 and 2, in the second match to push Els' mark to 4-0 so far.
 
The third match was never close as K.J. Choi and Adam Scott dusted the American duo of Kenny Perry and Jerry Kelly, 5 and 4. Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco nearly pulled off an amazing comeback after trailing Masters winner Mike Weir and Robert Allenby, 4-down with six to play. This was the only match to go 18 but the Americans could not win the closing hole at The Links Course at Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estates and fell to the Internationals, 1-up.
 
The anchor match was close but the International team of Price and Stuart Appleby won two late holes and posted a 2-and-1 victory over the American team of Davis Love III and David Toms.
 
It will all come down to Sunday's 12 singles matches if the U.S. is to avoid losing the Presidents Cup. They will need to win eight points on Sunday if they are to avoid their second loss in as many tries on foreign soil.
 
The only other time they have failed to win the Cup was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the only other time the tournament was held outside the United States and the other time Jack Nicklaus captained the American squad.
 
Saturday's action featured heavy winds on the front nine, where par was a good score at The Links Course at Fancourt, which was designed by International team captain Gary Player.
 
The closest match of the day was the battle between Woods and Howell and Singh and Goosen. The International side was 1-up until the ninth when Woods canned a four-foot birdie putt to square the match.
 
The score remained tied until the short, par-4 14th. Woods' drive was short of the putting surface but he hit an awful chip that ran through the green 40 feet from the hole. Goosen was in a greenside bunker and blasted out to three feet and Howell missed an 18-footer for birdie after Woods missed his long birdie try. Goosen holed his birdie putt and moved his team 1-up with four to play.
 
Woods and Singh both knocked it close for birdie at 15 and both putts were conceded. The sides halved the 16th but Singh sank a 25-foot birdie putt to close out the match at the 17th.
 
'We had the strong team back together again,' said Singh, referring to his partnership with Goosen, that netted a 3-and-2 win in Thursday's foursomes matches. 'Retief played really well. He was in the match all the way. We hung in there and made a few coming in.'
 
Mickelson and Funk broke out to a 2-up lead through three holes but the Aussie rookie duo clawed back. Despite a 400-yard drive from Mickelson at the seventh, the International team won the hole to go 1-down, then won the ninth thanks to a chip-in birdie from the Internationals.
 
The International side pulled ahead with a 10-foot birdie by Leaney at the 13th then held on when Mickelson missed a 20-footer for par at the 17th and Funk drove into an unplayable lie.
 
Els and Clark had very little trouble with Furyk and Haas, a team that matched the largest margin of victory in Presidents Cup history with a 6-and-5 win in Friday's fourballs.
 
Els and Clark won the first, second and fourth holes to go 3-up around the turn and with a win at the 12th, they found themselves 4-up. The Americans did not give up as they won the 14th and Furyk drained a three-footer for birdie at 15 to cut the gap to 2-down but Els won the 16th with an eagle to close out the match.
 
'We let some shots go on the back nine,' said Els, who was 0-5 in the 2000 Presidents Cup. 'It's hard to describe. I only get my chance now and again in front of the hometown fans, so you want to try and show off.'
 
Weir and Allenby were 4-up through 12 holes but Leonard knocked his second to inches at the par-5 13th. The Americans won No. 14 and Leonard holed a 12-foot birdie putt at 15 to cut the margin to 1-down.
 
The U.S. could not win a hole the rest of the way so it was yet another point for the Internationals.
 
The anchor match was close until the short 14th. Appleby was in the greenside bunker and holed out to send his team 1-up. Appleby won the 16th and the match concluded at 17 when Toms missed a 30-foot birdie try and Love drove into a hazard and picked up his ball.
 
'The two on the par-4 was a great bunker shot,' said Price. 'That really swung things in our favor.'
 
Choi and Scott were 5-up at the turn and completed the slaughter at No. 14.

Related Links:
  • Presidents Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup