US Stumbles Japan Takes Title

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PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- The American team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms went 71 holes without a bogey at the WGC-EMC World Cup, but the 72nd hole was the one that cost them the tournament.
 
A double-bogey six at the 18th on Sunday dropped the Americans two shots behind the Japanese tandem of Shigeki Maruyama and Toshi Izawa, who parred the 18th to win the final event of the 2002 season at the Nicklaus Course at Vista Vallarta Golf Club.
 
Maruyama and Izawa combined for a six-under 66 Sunday in the foursomes, or alternate-shot format. They finished with a four-day total of 36-under-par 252 to give Japan its second title in the history of this championship. In 1957, Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono took the title for Japan.
 
'I'm not sure that I won the tournament. It's rather, I feel that the 72 holes are done,' said Izawa. 'This year, I didn't play very well, but at the end of the year, winning such a big event is a very nice way to end the year.'
 
Mickelson and Toms finished alone in second place at 34-under par after carding a seven-under 65 in the final round. The Americans seemed to be at least headed to a playoff until the mishap at 18.
 
Mickelson pulled his drive into the right rough, leaving Toms an awkward lie with the ball well above his feet. Toms did not aim right enough to compensate and pulled his second into a hazard left of the green near water.
 
Mickelson elected to take a penalty stroke and drop closer to the green rather than play out of the hazard. His chip ran 15 feet past the hole and Toms' bogey putt failed to drop into the cup.
 
'The last hole certainly was a disappointing way for us to finish, given that we fought so hard yesterday and today to get back in the tournament,' said Mickelson, who teamed with Toms to shoot a 15-under-par 57 in Saturday's better-ball. 'We didn't apologize for poor shots. We know that's part of the game. We fought as hard as we could.'
 
Maruyama drove through the fairway at 18 but Izawa had a much better lie than Toms did in the group before and Izawa also had less distance to the flag. The Japanese player, ranked 50th in the world, tried to muscle a sand-wedge near the green but missed slightly right of the green.
 
Maruyama was able to putt his third shot and guided it two feet from the cup. Izawa tapped in the par save to give the team the win and the $1,000,000 first-prize check to split.
 
'We were aiming for 36-under at the beginning,' said Maruyama. 'We knew there was going to be at least one team that would be chasing us, and it was the U.S. team.'
 
The Japanese team held a one-shot lead around the turn and seemed to handle the pressure the Americans put on them with several back-nine birdies. Toms drained a six-foot birdie putt at 13 to keep the Americans one shot off the pace. Izawa lipped out a five-foot bogey putt at the same hole to complete a two-shot swing and give the United States a one-shot lead.
 
The Americans extended their advantage at the par-four 16th when Toms wedged his approach a foot from the stick. Mickelson made the birdie putt and the Americans walked to No. 17 tee with a two-shot lead.
 
The Japanese team pulled closer with a four-foot birdie at the 16th and after Izawa played his tee ball to five feet at 17, Maruyama rolled home the birdie putt to match the Americans in first at 36-under par.
 
Korea, represented by K.J. Choi and S.K. Ho, shared third place with England's Justin Rose and Paul Casey. The teams tied at 30-under-par 258.
 
South Africa, who won the title in 2001 with Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, had a solid showing this week. Rory Sabbatini and Tim Clark shot a one-under 71 and took fifth at 29-under par.
 
Argentina, with Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera, tied Australia's Craig Parry and Adam Scott for sixth place at minus-28.
 
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