Dead even at the Presidents Cup

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

MANASSAS, Va. -- Three days of blood, sweat and no tears, at least not yet, and the Presidents Cup teams find themselves right back where they started on Thursday.

Dead even.

In the twilight on the 18th hole at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club last evening, American veteran Fred Couples had a chance to give his side a one-point lead with the last eight-foot putt of a marathon day of golf. He missed it.

So the U.S. and the International team both head to today's dozen singles matches, hoping to win just one more hole than their opponents.

Unlike the past three days, in today's matches, every match will be played to a conclusion, at least until the Cup is decided. At that point, players still on the course have the option to declare a tie in their individual matches.

The Internationals entered play yesterday with a one-point lead but the Americans won three of the five morning foursomes matches, before splitting the five best-ball points in the afternoon.

"We've got two teams that are so even, it's unbelievable," American captain Jack Nicklaus said. "Whatever happens (today), it's going to be a great finish. whoever wins, it's going to go down as a great match."

Under the present scenario, it would seem the only way the event can end in a tie is if darkness interferes, as it did two years ago in South Africa.

"Darkness," sighed Nicklaus, as if it's the first time he had considered it. "You're going to have to ask a higher being than me. I don't know the answer to that question."

Yesterday's morning session of foursomes (alternate shot format), produced some extraordinary golf and more than a little drama as the Americans drew even on the overall score with a 3-2 split in the matches.

The U.S. won two matches, the Internationals one and the other two were halved. Mickelson and DiMarco buried Cabrera and Campbell 5 and 3, shooting an incredible 29 on the front side.

Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby saw what seemed a sure point slip away against Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, who won the final two holes to grab a half point. Furyk sank a 12-foot curling putt on 17 to extend the match, then hit it close at 18 so Woods could sink the birdie.

In the afternoon best-ball games, Scott and Goosen set the early tone, obliterating Leonard and Verplank 5 and 4. In the process, they rattled off 10 birdies in 13 holes, on their way to an undefeated record as a team. They won three matches and halved the other.

Mickelson and DiMarco responded by blowing out Lonard and O'Hern. The Americans made seven birdies and were never challenged by the faulty International partnership, which did not make a birdie until the 10th hole.

Hensby and Clark dismantled Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink 5 and 3, courtesy of Clark's hot putter and Perry's poor play. The Internationals made nine birdies and Perry was a non-factor.


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