Concession isn't half bad

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

MONTREAL -- They answered each other with loud replies, holing out from a bunker and draining crucial putts, going back and forth, but in the end, it was a whispered instruction that spoke loudest at the Presidents Cup.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Jack Nicklaus, a man who has never lost sight of what's right, was in the middle of it.

With the International team's Vijay Singh facing a 3O-foot putt on the 18th green for a half, Nicklaus, the American captain, leaned into the ear of Phil Mickelson.

In a gesture of sportsmanship that has characterized his career, Nicklaus apparently told Mickelson and partner Woody Austin to concede Singh's putt, giving the Fijian and partner Mike Weir the half.

It would be the only scrap the Internationals could cling to yesterday. Well, that's the way Mickelson told it, anyway.

"Captain Nicklaus said for us to do it, and when he says do something, we just do it," said Mickelson. "If it was me, I don't know ... but (the putt) was too short, too perfect. I haven't seen (Singh) miss one of those in four or five years."

Nicklaus, however, had a different version of events, saying it was Mickelson's and Austin's decision to concede the putt.

"I thought it was the right thing to do," said the Golden Bear. "It's the spirit of the thing ... I think that Phil and Woody made the right decision. They both felt that Mike had played a good match and Mike being a Canadian and being here, that it was the right thing to do.

"They just felt they all played well and I thought ... I guess they felt there shouldn't be a loser in the match.

"I would say if it was the second, third or fourth round, we probably wouldn't do that."

There might be some fans out there -- especially Americans -- who would have wanted to see Singh have to hit that putt.

The concession did take away a moment of drama.

Too nice? Maybe.

But Nicklaus and International captain Gary Player took the jobs on the condition a spirit of sportsmanship would prevail in these matches.

"We want the guys to walk away from here feeling like we didn't get everything we could get, but we gave everything we could give, meaning from themselves and golf and spirit of the game and sportsmanship," said Nicklaus.

The concession ended a wild match that saw the two teams each win six holes and allowed Weir, the captain's pick playing on his own turf, to emerge with a little bit of honour.

"It was a great match. In the four Cups I've played in, that was probably the toughest match," said Weir.

He had a rough start yesterday. He and Singh were down two after three holes and Weir didn't hit a good shot until the par-5 sixth hole, where he hit an approach inside two feet.

Weir and Singh won five of eight holes for a 3-up lead through 11 and then blew it. Mickelson and Austin won three in a row and Austin made a couple of clutch putts coming in.

Singh holed out from a greenside bunker for a birdie on the 15th hole and a 1-up lead, but Austin drained a 16-footer for a par and a half on 16 after his approach shot hit a sprinkler head and bounded over the green.

Mickelson made a 15-foot birdie putt on 17 to tie it up heading to the tough 18th.

"We had them right there and that's why (Mickelson) is No. 2 in the world," said Weir. "He makes those putts."

On 18, both teams missed the green and Austin drained a 12-footer for par after Weir had chipped up to 3O feet.

Weir said he wasn't surprised the Americans conceded the putt.

"As I was telling some of the guys, it doesn't surprise me with Jack or Gary. They do the right thing and they have for their whole career," he said.

"I'd like to think that if it was role reversal there, we would have done the same thing."

---

RESULTS

UNITED STATES 5O, INTERNATIONAL O

YESTERDAY

- Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan, U.S., def. Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott, International, 3 and 2.

- Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin, U.S., halved with Vijay Singh and Mike Weir, Bright's Grove, International.

- Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, U.S., def. Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini, International, 1-up.

- Jim Furyk and David Toms, U.S., def. Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera, International, 1-up.

- Scott Verplank and Lucas Glover, U.S., def. Stuart Appleby and Retief Goosen, International, 2-up.

- Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III, U.S., def. K.J. Choi and Nick O'Hern, International, 3 and 1.

TODAY

FOURBALL MATCHES

11:35 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, U.S., vs. Angel Cabrera and Retief Goosen, International.

11:47 a.m. -- Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, U.S., vs. Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby, International.

11:59 a.m. -- Zach Johnson and Charles Howell III, U.S., vs. Mike Weir, Bright's Grove, and Ernie Els, International.

12:11 p.m. -- Steve Stricker and Scott Verplank, U.S., vs. Adam Scott and K.J. Choi, International.

12:23 p.m. -- Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover, U.S., vs. Geoff Ogilvy and Nick O'Hern, International.

12:35 p.m. -- Woody Austin and David Toms, U.S., vs. Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini, International.


Videos

Photos