SAN FRANCISCO – Justin Leonard took a while to cool down after missing a 3-foot putt that cost the Americans a point in the opening session of the Presidents Cup.
After spending an hour on the putting green, he stormed into the team room and slammed the door behind him. He headed straight for the bar and downed five shot glasses, then grabbed a beer and guzzled that.
His teammates and their wives were stunned, and knew to keep their distance. Leonard then walked over to them, still glowering, and said in his typically dry fashion, “It was only water.”
That turned into quite the icebreaker.
“A little joke in the team room to let everybody know that I was OK,” Leonard said after making enough key putts Friday to team with Phil Mickelson for a 3-and-2 victory. “I had Fluff (Mike Cowan, Jim Furyk’s caddie) go in and line up some shots at the bar of water.
“The beer was real, and that tasted really good,” he said. “But just to kind of let everybody know that I was fine, and that I was ready to come out and play today.”
That he was. Leonard made a birdie putt on the opening hole, gave the Americans a 2-up lead with a birdie at the 14th, then closed out the match with an 8-foot birdie on the 16th.
“He showed a lot of heart today, and it was fun having him as my partner,” Mickelson said.
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OGILVY SITS: Geoff Ogilvy is the only International player among the top 10 in the world ranking, and he came to Harding Park with a career 18-3 record in match play, including two World Golf Championship titles.
Just his luck, he ran into Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker the first two matches, neither one reaching the 16th tee.
International captain Greg Norman spoke with his fellow Australian and decided to sit him out Saturday morning during foursomes.
“Geoff’s played a lot of golf of late,” Norman said. “Quite honestly, he was beaten up a lot, too. He was against Tiger and Stricker for two straight days. He just got into a buzz saw. You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, but you want to get rid of the bath water so the baby can swim the next couple of days and be OK.
“I think it was just a good move for him to say that it was time for him to take a rest.”
Norman also chose to sat out Masters champion Angel Cabrera, who asked for a rest to be ready for Sunday.
U.S. captain Fred Couples chose to sit out Anthony Kim and Lucas Glover.
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PHIL’S PARTNERS: Despite playing in all seven President Cups, Phil Mickelson came to Harding Park with only nine partners.
By Saturday morning, he already will have had three different players at his side.
Mickelson went from Anthony Kim to Justin Leonard, and next gets Sean O’Hair in a foursomes match.
“Phil has wanted to play with Sean and we wanted Sean to feel comfortable, of all the guys, which doesn’t mean he’s playing poorly, it just means it’s his first time,” Couples said.
Lefty appeared to be cautious with his back after his victory Friday, and it would not be surprising if he sat out Saturday afternoon.
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PRETTY IN PINK: Most of the U.S. players, Tiger Woods included, wore a pink ribbon in their hats on Friday to commemorate breast cancer awareness this month.
It takes on a special meaning at the Presidents Cup.
Missing this week is Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. She has not been out on tour since then, although Mickelson said her recovery is going well and the prospects are good.
It’s possible she could come up to San Francisco for the weekend, though doubtful she would come to the course.
“Obviously, Amy Mickelson is going through that, so we are just doing our part, a little sign to her that we miss her and we wish she was here,” Hunter Mahan said.
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TALE OF THE TIGER TAPE: Tiger Woods has never looked better in a uniform.
Playing with Steve Stricker for two rounds, they have yet to play beyond the 15th hole. They have yet to make a bogey. And they have yet to trail in any match, losing only one hole out of 29.
Perhaps even more peculiar is that Woods is 2-0 for the first time in either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup.
He will get Stricker again on Saturday. If they play all four matches together, it would mark only the fourth time in a cup competition that Woods stuck with the same partner all four team sessions.
He went 2-2 with Notah Begay in the 2000 Presidents Cup and 2-2 with Charles Howell in the 2003 Presidents Cup. Woods and Jim Furyk also went 2-2 in the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland.