Internationals 4, U.S. 1
Total: U.S. 6, Internationals 4
On the team bus returning from the course after the United States had pitched a shutout in Thursday’s foursomes, Ernie Els demanded the attention of his International teammates.
“He told us we had to play from the heart,” said Michael Campbell. “It really helped us as a team.”
And the effect was immediate the next morning, Oct. 20, when Campbell and Retief Goosen soundly thrashed American team leaders Paul Azinger and Hal Sutton, 4 and 3, in the initial four-ball.
“It was important for the team,” Goosen said. “We needed to get something going.”
Presidents Cup rookie Campbell sat out the first day but he still managed to cause a stir with a Maori native tribal war dance on the practice range. “It didn’t work then, did it?” Campbell said. “But I think it’s finally working. There was a 24-hour delay.”
To be sure, the Internationals won four of five matches to close the gap to 6-4.
Campbell thrust a dagger in whatever slim hopes Azinger and Sutton had when he knocked a 4-iron from 209 yards to within 25 feet on the par 5 14th. Purposely blading a sand wedge from the fringe, Campbell delicately slid his next shot down the slope and into the hole for an eagle that got the Internationals to dormie. A halve on the 15th ended the match.
Greg Norman rose as star of the morning for the Internationals, making four birdies in a smashing 6-and-5 victory with partner Nick Price over Jim Furyk and David Duval.
“This match was pretty important for Greg to show everybody he’s as good as he ever was,” said International captain Peter Thomson. “And he did.”
In other matches, Steve Elkington and a red-hot Mike Weir defeated Tom Lehman and Loren Roberts, 3 and 2. “One of the most underrated players I’ve ever played golf with,” Norman called Weir.
Carlos Franco, who ripped off six birdies, and Shigeki Maruyama upset Tiger Woods and Notah Begay III, 3 and 2. The win ran Maruyama’s lifetime Presidents Cup individual record to 6-0. Woods suffered a slow start when he broke his driver on the practice range and didn’t get a replacement until the third hole.
The only American victory came when Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III, 3 up after five holes, held on to knock off Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, 3 and 1. It left Mickelson and Love as the only 2-0 Americans.
“It’s more like this is the real thing,” Thomson said. “These two teams are evenly matched.”
– Brian Hewitt