Americans secure Presidents Cup title

MELBOURNE, Australia — The Americans returned Down Under and this time wound up on top in the Presidents Cup.

Jim Furyk became the fourth player to win all five of his matches, and the bottom half of the lineup was strong enough today to give the Americans their fourth straight win in this lopsided series.

Perhaps it was only fitting that Tiger Woods clinched the cup for the second straight time.

U.S. captain Fred Couples was criticized for using a pick on Woods, who had been out with an injury most of the summer and had not won since his personal life crumbled two years ago. Woods played well all week, even if he didn't always get rewarded with a point. In his singles match against Aaron Baddeley, he was never seriously challenged.

Woods closed out Baddeley, 4 and 3, and the celebration was on. The only left was for Steve Stricker in the anchor match to beat Y.E. Yang for the final score, 19-15.

"I was hoping it wasn't going to come down to us," Woods said. I was hoping that Stricks and I could take a victory lap back here. But we didn't get off to a good start early. I was telling Joey (LaCava) on the range, 'It's probably going to come down to the last four matches.' We needed to get our point, so we went out there and played really well today and put a lot of heat on Badds."

Couples said Woods was ready to go all week at Royal Melbourne.

"He was ready for a month," Couples said. "Certainly, I couldn't answer how he was going to play, but this week I think he showed to himself that his swing is back and he's healthy, and that's more important to me. Obviously, we want to win the cup, but's more important for me to have people realize that he can play the game."

He can celebrate, too.

Woods took his turn in joining in the Fanatics, the Aussie group that goes to big sporting events. Woods even donned one of their green caps and slapped hands in the crowd.

It was a small measure of revenge for the Americans, whose only lost came at Royal Melbourne in 1998. And it was vindication for Couples, who said a month early that he was taking Woods because he was the "best player forever."

International captain Greg Norman got in on the debate, saying he would have taken PGA champion Keegan Bradley over Woods.

"He stepped up to the plate. He putted extremely well," Norman said. "Any player hates to see another great player struggle, because we all know what it's like to go through the ins and outs of the game. At the end of the day, you want to see the player who has dominated the game come back."

As for Couples' taking Woods over Bradley?

"I did make those comments," Norman said. "I probably still would have gone for Keegan Bradley because he's a major champion."

The International team's only win came 13 years ago at Royal Melbourne, when the Americans suffered their biggest loss in any team competition. There was no repeat this time, not even close.

The Americans led after each session, and their 13-9 lead going into the final session today was too much for the International team to overcome, even with a loud and boisterous Australian crowd behind it.

LPGA Titleholders

At Orlando, Fla., Hee Young Park birdied three of the final four holes for a 3-under 69 and a share of the third-round lead with Sandra Gal in the LPGA Tour's season-ending Titleholders.

Gal, the German player who won the Kia Classic in March for her first LPGA Tour title, shot a 71 in tricky wind conditions to match Park at 7 under at Grand Cypress Resort.

Park, from South Korea, is winless in four full seasons on the LPGA Tour.

Suzann Pettersen was a stroke back after a 68, and Paul Creamer (71) was 5 under. Top-ranked Yani Tseng had a 66 — the best round of the day — to match second-round leader Na Yeon Choi (75) at 4 under.

Michelle Wie was even par after a 72.

Pebble Beach Invitational

At Pebble Beach, Calif., Matt Bettencourt shot a 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach on Saturday for a share of the lead with Kyle Thompson after the third round of the Callaway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational.

Bettencourt, the 2010 Reno-Tahoe Open winner, and Thompson were at 11-under 205.

Alfred Dunhill Championship

At Malelane, South Africa, South Africa's Garth Mulroy birdied five straight holes on the back nine en route to an 8-under 64 and two-stroke lead Saturday in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Mulroy had was 15 under at Leopard Creek in the event sanctioned by the European and Sunshine tours.

Johor Open

At Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Heavy rain washed out play Saturday and forced organizers to reduce the Iskandar Johor Open to 54 holes, with Sweden's Daniel Chopra holding a two-shot lead.

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