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GOLF ROUNDUP

Sweep Is a Nightmare for U.S. in Cup

November 23, 2003|From Associated Press

From Ernie Els to Vijay Singh, the International team battered the Americans for a sweep of the six better-ball matches Saturday, a phenomenal display of golf in smoky, windy conditions at George, South Africa, that left the Americans on the verge of losing the Presidents Cup.

"We got our butts kicked," U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said.

The International team seized a 12 1/2-9 1/2 lead, and needs to win only five of the 12 singles matches today to win the Presidents Cup for the second time.

"This was a dream day for us," Nick Price said.

Els improved to 4-0 on the Links Course at Fancourt by teaming with Tim Clark. They led 3-up after four holes and won, 3 and 2, over Jim Furyk and Jay Haas.

Singh and Retief Goosen finished with five birdies for a 2-and-1 victory over Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III.

Woods is 0-6 in better-ball matches in the Presidents Cup.

The International team went up early and won big, with only one match reaching the 18th.

In the first match, Peter Lonard and Stephen Leaney rallied from 2-down to beat Fred Funk and Phil Mickelson, the only player not to have won a match this week. The shutout was just getting started.

Mike Weir and Robert Allenby finished it off in style, both nearly holing 70-foot eagle putts on No. 18 for a 1-up victory over Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco.

"The best thing about today is that today doesn't matter. Tomorrow is where you win the cup," Jerry Kelly said after he and Kenny Perry lost to Adam Scott and K.J. Choi.

"They put themselves into position, but they haven't won. If they don't think we're going to be fired up coming off a drumming like we took today, they can go ahead and take it easy."

The Americans had never been shut out in a team session at the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup. And if they don't recover today, they'll be without a professional cup -- Ryder, Presidents or Solheim -- for the first time.

*

Recovered from the eye infection that ailed her the first two days, and playing with both contact lenses in for the first time this week, Annika Sorenstam shot five-under-par 67 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the ADT Championship at West Palm Beach, Fla.

"I'm 100%," she said after moving to five-under 211 for the tournament at the tough Trump International Course.

Cristie Kerr (71) and Meg Mallon (72) are Sorenstam's closest pursuers, at two under.

*

Arnold Palmer and Curtis Strange beat Tony Jacklin and Nick Faldo, 4 and 3, to help the United States remain a point behind in the UBS Cup at St. Simons Island, Ga.

The Rest of the World team leads 6 1/2-5 1/4 entering today's 12 singles matches on the Sea Island Golf Resort's Seaside Course. The United States is seeking its third consecutive victory in the event that features 12-man teams made up of six players 50 years and older and six between 40-49.

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