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GOLF ROUNDUP

Couples' Putt Gives U.S. the Cup

September 16, 1996|From Associated Press

The outcome hinged on a dramatic, 25-foot putt on the next-to-last hole of the final match, exactly the type of finish the Presidents Cup needed to build a pedigree.

With his 11 teammates and captain Arnold Palmer watching anxiously by the side of the green, Fred Couples made that birdie putt Sunday to beat Vijay Singh and give the United States a 16 1/2-15 1/2 victory over the International team to retain the trophy in the second edition of the biennial competition at Gainesville, Va.

Singh had a chance to match Couples' birdie, but missed a 15-footer that would have sent the match to the 18th hole.

The International team, composed of players from the Japanese, Southern Africa and Australasian tours, won six of Sunday's 12 singles matches. Greg Norman beat Corey Pavin, 3 and 1, in the big-name match of the day to tie the score at 15 1/2 points.

The final match, Couples vs. Singh, had three holes to play when everyone else had finished.

Singh was down 2 when he closed the gap with a birdie at the par-three 16th after his tee shot landed within three feet of the cup. He needed to win one of the final two holes to force a playoff, but Couples' putt ended the threat.

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Mike Hill won a tournament for the seventh consecutive year, the longest current streak on the Senior PGA Tour, a one-stroke victory in the Bank One Classic on Sunday at Lexington, Ky.

Hill, who was in a four-way tie for the lead after the second round, shot a four-under-par 68 to finish with a 54-hole total of 207, one stroke ahead of Gibby Gilbert and Isao Aoki.

The victory in the $600,000 event was worth $90,000 and Hill increased his 1996 earnings to $340,846. He has won 18 titles and $5.8 million in his senior career.

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Australian rookie Karrie Webb shot a three-under 69 to win the $550,000 Safeco Classic at Kent, Wash. With her third victory of the year she overtook Laura Davies on the LPGA money list.

Defending champion Patty Sheehan finished two shots behind Webb at nine-under 279 after a final-round 72 on the 6,241-yard Meridian Valley Country Club course.

It was Webb's eighth top-three finish this year and the $82,500 winner's purse gave her a rookie-record $769,532 for the year in 21 LPGA tournaments. Davies, who skipped the Safeco to prepare for next weekend's Solheim Cup, has won $764,081 in 15 events.

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