Originally created 09/24/05

U.S. rallies behind crowd



GAINESVILLE, Va. -- The electricity arrived at the Presidents Cup on Friday - and it had nothing to do with the lightning cells or the 80-minute storm delay.

Amidst thunderclaps and thunderous roars, the partisan American galleries helped spark a miniature U.S. team rally that kept the International team a narrow point ahead midway through the biennial competition.

Two wins, two losses and two ties sent the Internationals into Saturday's 10 team matches with a 6½-5½ lead at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

Considering the Americans led only one of the six matches on the course at one point, the level outcome was a relatively welcome result.

Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson rallied from two down with four to go for a halve against Michael Campbell and Angel Cabrera, while Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard rallied to defeat Mike Weir and Trevor Immelman, 2 and 1.

Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk - each experiencing back spasms that required treatment - led from the start to defeat Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby, 3 and 2.

All in all, the no blood result set up a tight weekend.

"Going on past experience at this course, I think usually the Internationals are getting smacked by now," said Peter Lonard, who paired with Nick O'Hern to smack down the pointless U.S. pairing of Davis Love III and Kenny Perry.

It was the crowd involvement that was the story of the day. Roars could be heard all around the course whenever the U.S. teams did anything well, while International success was met with mostly murmurs and a few jeers.

"I was telling my caddie that I think this crowd here is more USA favorable than at the Ryder Cup last year," said Stewart Cink, who held on with Fred Funk for a halve against Vijay Singh and Tim Clark.

The atmosphere troubled U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus.

"Hey guys, you can root if you want for the American team - I have no issue with that,'" Nicklaus told the gallery. "But when the International team hits a good shot, I think they deserve to have applause and appreciation."

Nicklaus added: "I don't think it was terrible today, but I think we could do better."

The player performance was certainly exemplary.

The 17th hole proved pivotal, with each team closing out one victory there and each rallying to set up halves.

DiMarco sank a 12-footer for birdie to put the pressure on Campbell, who slid an 8-footer to halve and stay 1-up past the cup.

The Internationals returned the favor when Singh made a kick-in birdie on 17 to even a match the Internationals had never led all day. Singh missed a 15-foot birdie on No. 18 that would've won the match.CutlineTiger Woods hits from the sand to the fourth green during Friday's better-ball matches at the Presidents Cup. Woods and partner Jim Furyk defeated Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby, 3 and 2. The U.S. team trails the International squad by one point.