U.S. keeps Cup hopes alive with big finish

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jack Nicklaus had cause for concern Friday in the Presidents Cup.

His best player -- Tiger Woods -- walked the fairway with a bag of ice pressed against his back. What Nicklaus figured would be his best tandem was getting hammered again. And as he stood on the ninth tee and gazed at the scoreboard, the Americans were ahead in only one of the six matches.

"When that last group went through, if you gave me 3-3, I would have given you 10-1 (odds)," Nicklaus said. "I would have been very, very pleased. As the afternoon went on, I was kind of disappointed it ended up 3-3."

Indeed, it was a strange and stormy afternoon at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. The push in six better-ball matches belied the changes in momentum, and a stark difference in a crowd that revved up their cheers for the U.S. team and went silent when the International team pulled off its share of great shots.

When it was over, the International team kept its one-point lead -- 6 1/2-5 1/2 -- heading into a pivotal round Saturday of 10 matches, following by 12 singles matches Sunday.

"I see it going right down the line again," International captain Gary Player said.

Nothing was more bizarre than Woods.

Winless in his previous six better-ball matches at the Presidents Cup, the world's No. 1 player showed up on the first tee wondering if teammate Jim Furyk's sore ribs would allow him to play. An hour later, it was Woods getting the treatment. Sore ribs affected his upper back, and a therapist had to apply ice between shots.

No matter. Woods birdied seven of the first 12 holes, then relied on Furyk to make the decisive birdie for a 3-and-2 victory against Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby.

PGA Tour

Dean Wilson shot an 8-under 62 on Friday to take the lead at the Texas Open and David Duval made his first 36-hole cut this year.

Wilson, best known for playing with Annika Sorenstam at the 2003 Colonial, had a 12-under 128 total after two rounds at the LaCantera Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas, one stroke in front of Jeff Maggert and John Senden and nine in front of Duval, the world's former No. 1 player who had missed 18 straight cuts and broken par just once this year before shooting a 1-under 69 on Thursday.

"It was a cycle that needed to be broken," said Duval, whose previous cut was in the Michelin Championship last October. "I've been number one and number 1,000, but I've hit bottom and I'm coming back up."

Wilson, who had Friday's lowest round, finished third in this tournament last year.

First-round leader Robert Gamez had a second-round 68 and was tied for fourth with Olin Browne (65), Woody Austin (67) and Bob Heintz (65) at 130.

With Hurricane Rita shifting further east, no rain is expected in San Antonio over the weekend, but winds could still peak upward of 35 mph on Saturday.

-- From wire reports

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