Internationals tame Tiger

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

MANASSAS, Va. -- Everybody seems to want to play with Tiger Woods but, for some strange reason, nobody can.

Yesterday's opening round of the Presidents Cup was no different. The partnership of Woods and Fred Couples was smoked by Australian Adam Scott and South African Retief Goosen, 4 and 3.

When the dust had settled over Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, the International team held a 3 1/2-2 1/2 lead after six alternate-shot matches.

The tournament continues today with six best-ball matches. Tomorrow there are two five-match sessions, one of four-ball and the other of alternate shot. On Sunday, the finale is a series of 12 singles matches.

Over his Ryder and Presidents Cup career, including yesterday's blowout, Woods is 10-18-1 when teamed with another compatriot in best-ball and alternate shot.

Today, captain Jack Nicklaus will send Woods out with Jim Furyk in the final best-ball match against Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby. The catch is that Furyk aggravated a rib injury yesterday and may be unable to play.

If that's the case, Woods will play a singles match against either Appleby or Hensby, probably Appleby. If Furyk starts but can't finish, then Woods will have to take on both Appleby and Hensby. Maybe that's the answer to the partner quandary: No partner.

"We expect that Jim will be able to play," Nicklaus said.

In a pairing that both captains hoped would set the tone for their teams, Woods and Couples fell behind early. They were down three holes after seven had been played and never threatened.

"The match was a big thing for the International team," Nicklaus said. "It set the stage for them being ahead. I thought it was very, very big. We were hoping for the same boost, but I was wrong."

The team of Kiwi Michael Campbell and Argentine Angel Cabrera engineered a come-from-behind win against Davis Love and Kenny Perry, 2 and 1, for the Internationals' second point.

Canada's Mike Weir and South African Trevor Immelman won the most lopsided match, burying David Toms and Stewart Cink, 6 and 5. The Internationals' other half-point was achieved by Vijay Singh and Mark Hensby, who battled Fred Funk and Furyk to a draw.

Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank were somewhat surprising winners over Appleby and Peter Lonard, 4 and 2. The other American point came from the partnership of Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, who beat Nick O'Hern and Tim Clark, 1-up.

Mickelson's half-point was a bit of a breakthrough for him, after losing all five matches at the most-recent Presidents Cup.

Still, International captain Gary Player is preaching caution to his team.

"Being up one point is irrelevant," he said. "It's like a mile race and we're out 50 yards ahead, with such a long way to go. This is as close as we can be without being tied."


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