Two years later and halfway across the world, the Presidents Cup is as close as ever.
updated: February 25, 2007 10:49 IST
Gainesville:Two years later and halfway across the world, the Presidents Cup is as close as ever. Chris DiMarco came up aces, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk came through with clutch comebacks and Retief Goosen and Adam Scott proved as formidable as ever on Saturday, all of them turning in solid performances that left the matches tied going into a final round of 12 singles matches. Headed for tie Each team had 11 points, the first time the Presidents Cup has been tied going into Sunday since it began in 1994. "I think tomorrow is a toss-up," Phil Mickelson said. "The International team is very strong, 12 of the best players in the game. They are extremely tough and are playing some extremely good golf. I feel the American team is playing exceptional golf, as well. I have faith in my team. But we have a lot of work ahead of us." The Americans had a chance to take the outright lead in the final better-ball match of the afternoon. Fred Couples, who has provided some of the most dramatic images from Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, hit a wedge into eight feet on the 18th hole and was poised to score a 1-up victory. But his putt stayed above the cup as he and Davis Love III had to settle for a halve with Michael Campbell and Angel Cabrera. No one had to work harder than Woods and Furyk, who birdied the last two holes in alternate shot Saturday morning to earn a halve against Fiji's Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby of Australia, then went the distance against them in the afternoon. It was just as tight, just as tense as Furyk carried the load and kept the Americans in the match. Woods finally delivered, making an 18-foot birdie on the 16th hole that barely caught the left edge of the cup for a 1-up lead. Appleby hit a wedge into 10 feet on the last hole, but missed the putt. "I didn't really do much except for read puts and have the pompoms out," Woods said. "Finally, I was able to help him out on 16 and I made a putt there." DiMarco and Mickelson were so dominant that neither of their matches Saturday reached the 16th hole. Strong play The International side got more strong play from Scott and Goosen, who battled Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard to a draw in the morning, and buried them in a better-ball match with 10 birdies in 14 holes. As close as these matches have been, the Americans might have history on their side. They have never lost at RTJ, and they have never lost a singles session in five previous President Cup matches. The only other time the matches were this close was in 1996, when the Americans took a one-point lead in the final day and split the singles to win the cup. Americans start trailing The Americans started the day trailing by one point, but pulled even by winning three points from the five alternate-shot matches in the morning. Appleby, who had made two long par putts to keep his International team in the match, came through again on the 16th hole with a 15-foot par for a 2-up lead with two holes to play. Furyk and Woods got all they could get, a half-point that ultimately tied the matches after three sessions. Furyk made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th that broke sharply to the right to give the Americans a chance. And after Woods found the fairway, Furyk hit his approach to 4 feet. Singh had a 25-foot putt that stopped a few blades of grass to the right of the cup, then Woods made his birdie putt for the halve. Confusion in the green Then came the confusion. Love and Stewart Cink, who were 4-up with six holes to play, were clinging to a 1-up lead when Cink hit his wedge on the 17th into about 18 inches. Mike Weir called out to Cink, "Good shot." All Love heard was "good." So, he picked up the ball, and Weir asked him what he was doing. As Love stood with his arms outstretched, the gallery began to boo. "I think they thought I was trying to win the hole that way," Weir said. "That wasn't the case at all." Weir wanted to see the coin mark on the green, a psychological reminder that the match was over if Weir had missed his 8-foot attempt. Unsure what to do, both captains arrived on the green, along with retired USGA rules chief Tom Meeks. Weir's partner, Trevor Immelman, argued that picking up the ball without it being conceded is loss of the hole, but all Weir wanted was for Love to replace the ball. Meeks said that's what the rule required under this situation. Weir made his putt, picked up Love's coin and they headed to the 18th. The Americans won the match when Immelman's 25-foot birdie putt lipped out. (AP)