International team climbs back in Presidents Cup U.S. falls, 7-3, on 2nd day, takes 1-point lead into closing singles matches

September 15, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. -- Turnabout became fair play, as the International team clubbed it American hosts, 7-3, on the second day of the Presidents Cup matches and climbed back into contention.

The United States leads, 10 1/2 -9 1/2 , heading into this morning's 12 singles matches, which will be played to their conclusion. With 32 points available, it will take 16 1/2 for one side to win.

With the International team banking the first four afternoon foursomes, the spotlight was on Americans Scott Hoch and Mark O'Meara and the Internationals' Steve Elkington and Vijay Singh coming down the stretch.

An International eagle at the fifth hole produced a 3-up margin, but O'Meara and Hoch hung around, got it to even at the 11th and were not behind the rest of the way. "I saw the [score]board and we were getting waxed," O'Meara said.

After an O'Meara 6-iron to a foot set up a birdie at No. 16, the sides halved the 17th.

At 18, while Elkington-Singh went fairway-green, O'Meara pulled his tee shot, and Hoch's approach kicked left of the green. "Cart path, cart path, pitch shot -- it was easy," said O'Meara, able to laugh after his somewhat aggressive sand wedge shot hit the fringe and trickled down close to the hole. Elkington, needing to hole a five-footer to win the hole and halve the match, saw his bid slide past the cup.

"I was tired, and a little bit nervous, but it's not like me to hit one of those shots at a time like that," O'Meara said of his tee shot at 18. "Overall, it's tough, because you are out there to do your best, and you can't control what others do."

Later, team captain Arnold Palmer would call O'Meara's shot "huge -- one of the best I've seen, considering the circumstances."

A half there and the match would have been tied at 10 going to the last day.

"I think our fellows were shocked the first day with all the birdies and hot play," International captain Peter Thomson said. "They faced up to it Friday night and came out with a better attitude and were a much more effective side today."

It was a perfect warm, sunny day, one that saw the downtrodden rise up and smote the opposition.

Nick Price, 0-4-2 in Presidents Cup play after losing twice Friday, teamed with Steve Elkington to whip Justin Leonard and Tom Lehman, 2-up, in the morning, then came back with Mark McNulty to beat Kenny Perry and Leonard, 3 and 1.

Previous non-losers Davis Love III and Fred Couples came up empty. The four-time World Cup champions, boasting Presidents Cup records of 6-0-1 and 5-0, respectively, were the 2-and-1 morning victims of Jumbo Ozaki and Singh. Couples (with David Duval) was one of the two Americans to sit down in the afternoon.

Duval's omission was somewhat of a surprise after he and O'Meara had whipped three successive foes.

"Although he's very young [24] and has played quite well, I just felt like maybe it was a good idea to give him a rest," Palmer said.

NOTES: In the morning matches, Frank Nobilo eagled the 507-yard 12th and 583-yard 14th holes. . . . O'Meara and Duval were 8-under par in nine holes (six birdies and Duval's eagle at 12), going from 2-down to 2-up, and eventually to 4-up in the process.

Four-ball (better ball)

Nick Price and Steve Elkington, International, def. Justin Leonard and Tom Lehman, United States, 2-up. Greg Norman and Robert Allenby, International, def. Steve Stricker and Corey Pavin, United States, 1-up. Kenny Perry and Scott Hoch, United States, def. Craig Parry and Frank Nobilo, International, 2 and 1. Jumbo Ozaki and Vijay Singh, International, def. Davis Love III and Fred Couples, United States, 2 and 1. Mark O'Meara and David Duval, United States, def. Ernie Els and Mark McNulty, International, 4 and 3.

Foursomes (alternate shot)

Peter Senior and David Frost, International, def. Pavin and Phil Mickelson, United States, 3 and 2. Nobilo and Allenby, International, def. Love and Mark Brooks, United States, 3 and 2. Price and McNulty, International, def. Perry and Leonard, United States, 3 and 1. Norman and Els, International, def. Lehman and Stricker, United States, 1-up. O'Meara and Hoch, United States, def. Elkington and Hoch, International, 1-up.

Today's schedule

Twelve singles matches beginning at 12: 15 p.m. Brooks vs. Parry; Duval vs. Senior; O'Meara vs. Price; Perry vs. Frost; Stricker vs. Allenby; Hoch vs. McNulty; Love vs. Ozaki; Leonard vs. Elkington; Mickelson vs. Els; Pavin vs. Norman; Lehman vs. Nobilo; Couples vs. Singh.

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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