GREG NORMAN’S Internationals are just one point behind the Americans after the first day of the Presidents Cup in San Francisco.
The Internationals were looking good early – apart from a whitewash from the Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker pairing – but the Americans stepped up on the back nine and looked like they would dominate the results.
Justin Leonard just needed to sink a sitter that was the last putt of the day to give the Americans another full point win and a big advantage.
But with Norman, US Captain Fred Couples, their teams, families and a big crowd watching on the 18th, his putt lipped out, leaving the final standing at a slim 3.5 points to 2.5 points.
The Americans groaned but the Internationals managed to stifle their glee.
After a topsy turvy day, that final draw in the Foursomes format will give Norman’s team some needed momentum going into the second day. The Internationals have often struggled in the foursomes matches of the cup.
The standout team of the day were Woods and Stricker, who notched five birdies in the first nine holes and ended up beating Geoff Igilvy and Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa Geoff Ogilvy 6&4.
Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim delivered America’s first point when they posted a 3&2 victory over Canadian Mike Weir and South African Tim Clark. Their late run included birdies on the last four holes.
The somewhat controversial selection of the International team, Australian Adam Scott, repaid the faith shown in him by Norman when he and South African Ernie Els earned the Internationals’ first point with a 2&1 victory over Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair.
“It’s an important win,” Scott said. “Things were looking good early on, but some matches turned around so we needed this one.”
Woods and Stricker were the only American team never to trail in a match, and the Internationals were in the lead in four out of six at one point before momentum began to shift.
Australia’s Robert Allenby was also in good form and he and Fijian Vijay Singh delivered another crucial point for the Internationals as they battled to a 1up victory over Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink – the reigning US Open and British Open champions.
Americans Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard were 3 down at one stage but rallied and looked to have the match against PGA Championship winner Yang Yong-Eun from South Korea and South African Retief Goosen in the bag. Leonard’s missed putt put them square.
Americans Kenny Perry and Zach Johnson defeated Argentine Angel Cabrera and Colombian Camilo Villegas 2up.