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Americans headed for a rare road victory

Woody Austin, Phil Mickelson, Saturday Foursomes, Presidents Cup
David Boily/AFP/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin won 1 1/2 points for the U.S.

MONTREAL (AP) — The Presidents Cup is supposed to be a team event. Based on the beating the Americans delivered Saturday, the only excitement left is one match between the two biggest stars at Royal Montreal.

Thousands of Canadian fans who wanted to see the International team hoist the cup might have to settle for a consolation prize of their beloved Mike Weir trying to take down Tiger Woods.

And just like the rest of these matches, it seems like a tall task.

Woods won twice with different partners, neither match going longer than 15 holes. The Americans pitched a shutout in the five morning matches of alternate-shot, then turned back an International rally in the afternoon fourballs with one of its own. When 11 hours of limited cheers finally ended, the United States had a 14 1/2-7 1/2 lead, the largest at the Presidents Cup in seven years.

That means the International team must win 10 of the 12 singles matches Sunday to take back the cup.

"It's not over," International captain Gary Player said. "But things don't look too good. The egg is not sunny-side up."

All eyes will be on Match No. 4, which Player and U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus orchestrated and both players welcomed.

"Anybody who plays Tiger has got their hands full," Weir said after winning one of the 2 1/2 points the International team earned out of 10 matches Saturday. "But I'm playing well, and I feel like if I can keep that up, it's going to be a great match."

Woods played Australian icon Greg Norman at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and Ernie Els in South Africa in 2003, winning both matches. He told Nicklaus he had no preference whom he played, but gladly accepted a match against a fellow Masters champion.

"I give Tiger all credit," Nicklaus said. "He had the choice to do it or duck, and he did not duck it. I said, 'You probably will not be the darling of the gallery tomorrow.' He says, 'I've had that before."'

The outcome is starting to look familiar, too.

The last time the Americans held such a big lead was in 2000 in Virginia, when they rode a 14-6 lead into the biggest rout in Presidents Cup history. Just like then, contributions are coming from all corners.

Phil Mickelson showed Woody Austin how to stay dry in stealing a half-point in the afternoon when both made birdie over the final two holes. It included one comical moment when Mickelson had to step into the lake to hit a shot, just as Austin did the day before. Lefty didn't go face-first into the water, but he did borrow his caddie's shoe, a veteran move.

Stewart Cink made clutch putts to turn another likely loss into a point that continued to fill the scoreboard with American red numbers.

Player watched in disbelief, searching for answers that didn't exist.

"Look, you can come up with all kind of theories," he said. "But the Americans have just played better. Amen."

Religion won't help now.

It appears that for the second time in three weeks, the Sunday chase for a cup will be anticlimactic. Woods essentially wrapped up the FedEx Cup at East Lake before the weekend arrived, and only the greatest comeback in Presidents Cup history will keep this event from turning into a snoozer at Royal Montreal.

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