MONTREAL - A bunker shot Friday shifted the momentum of the 2007 Presidents Cup, and when the day was finished, Jack Nicklaus' American Team seemed battered and bruised, even as it clung to a two-point lead over the International Team.
Vijay Singh holed out from a bunker on the 444-yard, par-4 first hole to give himself and teammate Stuart Appleby an early lead in their four-ball match against Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. That kick-started a round that saw Singh and Appleby record seven birdies, two eagles and get to 11-under-par through through 14 holes, when they dismissed Woods and Furyk, 5 and 4.
"It was a very very important start, psychologically. It got the momentum going," International Team Captain Gary Player said.
Indeed, it did. The International Team went on to win four of the day's six matches on the Blue Course here at the Royal Montreal Golf Club, a trouncing that seemed like the perfect reply to Thursday's opening round, which saw the United States take a commanding early lead, collecting 5 1/2 points to the International Team's half point.
The United States still leads the Presidents Cup 7-5.
On a day that saw sun and rain mix, the Blue Course stayed damp and soft, and players scored. There were 97 birdies and five eagles on the day.
Local favorite Mike Weir had seven of them, as he and teammate Ernie Els dispatched Masters Champion Zach Johnson and Charles Howell III 3 and 1.
Three matches went the full 18 holes, and all were winnable for the Americans. U.S. Open Champion Angel Cabrera sunk a clutch, 20-foot birdie putt to take the final point with teammate Retief Goosen against Phil Mickelson and Presidents Cup rookie Hunter Mahan.
There were some bright patches for the Americans, namely Steve Stricker and Woody Austin. Stricker birdied four of eight holes on the back side and he and teammate Scott Verplank beat Adam Scott and C.J. Choi.
"You could look at the board and see the direction the day was going for the International Team," Sticker said. "We felt it was very important for us to sneak out with at least a half point, if not a full one. We were fortunately enough to get a point."
Austin, playing in his first Presidents Cup, single-handedly brought teammate David Toms and himself back from behind in their match against the South African duo of Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman. Austin, who had eight birdies on the day, birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to square the match. Austin stuck his approach on 18 to within four feet of the pin, and Sabbatini answered with an approach to six feet. Both made birdie to halve.
"We were ecstatic to get a half point," Austin said. "They way the day went, it was tough on everyone."
But perhaps not more than on Furyk and Woods. It was Woods' worse loss in professional match-play competition.
"It's not like we were playing bad. But we needed to take it a lot deeper and we didn't do it," Woods said.
The two never seemed to be able to get momentum, even after recording early birdies themselves on Nos. 2 and 3. It was Singh who kept the pressure on, holing out again on the 570-yard par-5 sixth for eagle, then making birdie on the last three holes to close out the match.
"We came out strong. We wanted to put some points on the board early and give the guys coming behind something to look up to, give them some sort of boost," Singh said.
• Angel Cabrera/Retief Goosen (International) def. Phil Mickelson/Hunter Mahan (U.S.) 1 up
• Vijay Singh/Stuart Appleby (International ) def. Tiger Woods/Jim Furyk (U.S.) 5 and 4
• Ernie Els/Mike Weir (International) def. Zach Johnson/Charles Howell (U.S.) III 3 and 1
• Steve Stricker/Scott Verplank (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/ K.J. Choi (International) 2 and 1
• Geoff Ogilvy/Nick O'Hern (Interntional) def. Stewart Cink/Lucas Glover (U.S.) 1 up
• Woody Austin/David Toms (U.S.) halved with Trevor Immelman/Rory Sabbatini (International)
September 29, 2007
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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