Despite a sore back that had to be iced between shots, Tiger Woods carried Jim Furyk and his sore ribs to win his first better-ball match in the Presidents Cup, but it only helped the Americans stay close on Friday.
Despite Woods' seven birdies in his first 12 holes, when the second session of matches ended the International team claimed a 6Ѕ-5Ѕ lead into the weekend. Adam Scott and Retief Goosen again proved to be an International juggernaut, and Vijay Singh came through with a clutch shot on the 17th hole that allowed him and Tim Clark to earn a halve.
The six matches on a stormy afternoon ended 3-3, making Saturday a pivotal round. There will be five alernate-shot matches in the morning and five better-ball matches in the afternoon. And if it was anything like the second round, it could come down to the final holes. All of the matches reached at least the 16th hole, and two came down to the 18th.
U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand was poised to deliver a dramatic victory until his approach struck the flag and rolled back into the rough. Then, he used the blade of his sand wedge to roll the ball toward the cup, and it spun all the way around the hole and popped out. He and Angel Cabrera had to settle for a halve against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco.
Singh hit a wedge that stopped 3 feet away for birdie on the 17th to square the match against Fred Funk and Stewart Cink, and the Fijian had a chance to win the match. But his 15-footer for birdie never had a chance.
Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard also won their second match, combining for five birdies in a six-hole stretch and closing out Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir when Verplank's approach to the 17th stopped 3 feet away.
In the other match, Peter Lonard and Nick O'Hern of Australia rolled to a 3-and-2 victory over Davis Love III and Kenny Perry, leaving the American duo winless in the first two days. Woods was 0-6 in better ball during his three previous trips to the Presidents Cup, and he was paired with Furyk, who wasn't sure he would be able to play.
But it was Woods who was in the most pain, suffering what appeared to be back spasms on the sixth hole. A therapist pressed a cup of ice on his upper back between shots - one of those a 6-iron that nearly went into the cup for an ace on the peninsula-green seventh hole. Woods continued to hit iron shots that covered the flag. But when Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby made a charge, Woods turned the show over to Furyk, who holed an 8-foot birdie on the 16th, AP reports.