Norman praises eagle hero Clark
International captain Greg Norman praised Tim Clark for helping keep his side within reach of the USA in the Presidents Cup.
International captain Greg Norman praised Tim Clark for helping keep his side within reach of the USA and still in with a chance of winning the Presidents Cup this weekend.
South African Clark engineered a final-hole eagle at Harding Park in San Francisco in Friday’s four balls to give himself and Vijay Singh a one-up victory over Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim and hold the American lead at 6½ to 5½ with 22 points left to play for in this Ryder Cup-style event.
Having started the day with a 3½ to 2½ point advantage, Fred Couples’ Americans got off to a flying start in fourballs play, going up in five of the six better ball matches, only to see the Internationals rally to split the series three matches apiece.
Clark decided the final match with a textbook playing of the final 525-yard, par-five hole, driving straight down the middle, finding the green with his approach and then sinking his putt.
Norman could not speak highly enough of the South African.
“We were down 5-1 in our matches,” Norman said. “To come out with a push just was an admirable job by my guys.
“Tim Clark, to do what he did at the end, to come down to make eagle to win that match, was really the shot in the arm.
“I can tell you our team cabin is very, very happy right now and very excited about the way we turned things around today, because it really could have been a disastrous situation if the trend just kept going the way it was going.”
Couples admitted he took little comfort in his team’s one-point overnight advantage heading into the third day’s five foursomes and five fourballs matches before the final day set of 12 singles matches.
“It’s either a short lead or a small lead, but as Greg said at one time, we were up, but barely up, and his guys certainly have as much fight as our guys, and they battled back, and we did lose a couple of matches,” Couples said.
“Timmy Clarke eagling that last hole was a big boost for them, but at the same time our guys are awfully excited about the way they are playing.
“That’s a key thing. Greg’s guys were great today, to battle back and get three points when they needed to was a good finish.”
The plus points for Couples were another comprehensive win for Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods, who dominated Geoff Ogilvy – this time along with Angel Cabrera – for the second day in a row, beating the International pairing five and three a day after trouncing the Australian and Japanese teenage rookie Ryo Ishikawa six and four.
Ogilvy and Cabrera will sit out this evening’s foursomes but Couples has no intention of breaking up his lead pairing, sending them out in the fourth match against Clark and Mike Weir.
“They wanted to play together,” Couples said. “And Stricker thought they would be a great best-ball team, and Tiger thought they would be a great alternate-shot team.
“So when we got here we were going to put them together, and obviously they won the first match and then they won again today.
“So until they get tired of each other they are going to play again and again and again.”
World number two Phil Mickelson will kick off the American campaign for the third day in a row, looking to keep his 100% record this week with a third different partner in Sean O’Hair against Retief Goosen and Camilo Villegas.
Ernie Els and Adam Scott have been reunited by Norman in foursomes and will face Furyk and Justin Leonard, while the Australian skipper has kept together fourball victors Vijay Singh and Robert Allenby and Presidents Cup rookies Ishikawa and YE Yang, who have been matched against Stewart Cink and Hunter Mahan and Kenny Perry and Zach Johnson respectively.
Couples has benched Anthony Kim and Lucas Glover for the first series of third-day matches, both players having struggled to find form on day two.
Presidents Cup, USA v International Team, Harding Park Golf Course, San Francisco, California, USA.
FRIDAY’S FOURBALL RESULTS
(USA names first, all times BST):
Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard bt Retief Goosen and Adam Scott 3 & 2
Kenny Perry and Sean O’Hair lost to Ryo Ishikawa and Y.E. Yang 4 & 3
Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim lost to Ernie Els and Mike Weir 2 down
Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods bt Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera 5 & 3
Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink lost to Vijay Singh and Tim Clark 1 down
Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan bt Robert Allenby and Camilo Villegas 2 & 1
Friday’s fourball result: USA 3, Internationals 3
USA 6½, International Team 5½
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