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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF ROUNDUP

Motivated U.S. Team Feeling Just Perfect at Presidents Cup

October 20, 2000|From Associated Press

No one can say this American team doesn't care about playing in the Presidents Cup.

Led by the brilliant play of its rookies and a clutch putt by Tiger Woods, the U.S. got off to a perfect start Thursday, winning every alternate-shot match for a 5-0 lead over the International team at Gainesville, Va.

"We're very happy to be here, and motivated to win," Tom Lehman said after he and Phil Mickelson had won the first match of the Presidents Cup, a 5 and 4 rout of Greg Norman and Steve Elkington.

It was the second time the Americans have led 5-0 after the first session, matching their record start six years ago at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

"It was a bit of a shocker," International captain Peter Thomson said. "They've all got to pull their socks up and play a little better. And we'll see what happens."

Three matches reached the 18th hole, but it was never really close.

Stewart Cink and Kirk Triplett, both playing in their first team competition, made seven birdies in 17 holes on a difficult course for a 3 and 2 victory over International rookies Mike Weir of Canada and Retief Goosen of South Africa.

The other U.S. rookie, Notah Begay, also won his match--and not simply because his partner was Woods, his former teammate at Stanford. Begay sealed their 1-up victory over Ernie Els and Vijay Singh with an approach to within 10 feet on the 18th.

Woods made the par putt for a halve of the hole, ramming his fist toward the cup as it fell. He and Begay slapped hands sideways and tapped fists.

"I got a little excited," Woods said with a sheepish grin.

*

Mike Hulbert, ranked 214th on the PGA money list, shot a seven-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead over five golfers after the first round of the Tampa Bay Classic at Palm Harbor, Fla.

*

Nancy Scranton made the most of wind-free conditions, reeling off birdies on the final four holes for a seven-under-par 65 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the AFLAC Champions at Mobile, Ala.

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