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Breaking down the Sunday singles matches

November 19, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia -- A four-point deficit is not insurmountable in team competition. Why it happened just 12 short years ago when USA shocked Europe in the Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

Of course, USA got insanely hot with the putters and the home crowd was delirious and patriotic fever ratcheted up the intensity and Europe crumbled like a stale rice cake. So it can be done.

Don't see that happening today here at Royal Melbourne GC, though. The U.S. squad holds a 13-9 advantage, leaving the Internationals the proverbial Camel-passing-through-a-needle's-eye chance of capturing its second Presidents Cup win.

Captain Greg Norman's little sharks need to swim off with 8 1/2 out of a possible 12 points in Sunday singles. It would be a magical day if it happens, but the Internationals have been playing tight all week and have given little indication that they are going to shed that disposition and start freewheeling it around a golf course not exactly set up for such shenanigans. But if it were a lock, we could go home now. Norman isn't ready.

"I think the guys who stepped up to the plate today, and to win the [four-ball] session today the way they did under trying conditions, it could have been really close today," the Shark said. "Right now, we have got our backs against the wall, no question about it, and you've got to believe that you can come back, win nine matches out of 12 to win this. I believe the guys can."

Here's a rundown of the singles matchups. If you find nine International points here (the format the final day does not allow for matches to be halved), then you could qualify for the "Where's Waldo" World Series, too.

K.T. Kim vs. Webb Simpson

The homers need a rally. Can K.T. Kim whip up the home crowd? Should have been an Aussie going first here. Webb Simpson in lead-off for fifth straight session. No longer a rookie at this.

Dustin Johnson vs. Charl Schwartzel

The Masters champion has found his footing. Johnson needs to find his putter to keep from getting kicked to the curb.

Ryo Ishikawa vs. Bubba Watson

Ishikawa went 0-2 against Watson in team matches, but rested Saturday afternoon. He'll need it.

Bill Haas vs. Geoff Ogilvy

The Melbourne native undoubtedly has the edge here against the U.S. rookie. Haas may surprise folks here with his poise.

Jason Day vs. Hunter Mahan

A rematch of sorts from Saturday four-ball play when Mahan closed out Day and Aaron Baddeley. Mahan might be having the best ball-striking week among both teams.

Nick Watney vs. K.J. Choi

Choi has been as solid as, well, his nickname, "Tank." Watney another first-timer who isn't acting like a rookie. Could easily go extra holes.

Adam Scott vs. Phil Mickelson

Both men sport losing records in singles, but a Lefty win gets him to .500. Scott represents Mickelson's ninth different singles opponent.

Matt Kuchar vs. Retief Goosen

No need for NBC to waste audio here. They'll smile at each other but say very little. Goosen's 3-2 singles mark includes wins over Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Ernie Els vs. Jim Furyk

Incredible that these two veterans have never squared off in the Presidents Cup. Furyk is 4-2 in singles; Els is 3-3. One of the Big Easy's three losses this week was in Saturday four-ball against Furyk and Watney. Could be Big Queasy time.

David Toms vs. Robert Allenby

Allenby will carry all the pressure as a captain's pick who is thus far without a point and who hails from Melbourne. Oh, and he's a mere 1-3-1 in previous singles matches.

Aaron Baddeley vs. Tiger Woods

A natural pairing for the home crowd to rally around. A consolation prize of sorts if Badds should be good enough to win. Tiger hitting it well enough to make him earn it, putting poorly enough to give it away.

Steve Stricker vs. Y.E. Yang

Don't know if this match will count, but it might be one of the friendliest ever contested between two very nice men. If they allowed ties, these guys would shake on it on the first tee and share a Coke.

-*-Dave Shedloski