October 7, 2009

Birdies And Bogeys

SAN FRANCISCO -- The scoreboard says the U.S. has a 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 lead over the Internationals after the first day at Harding Park. But that's not the only measurement that matters. It's time for another version of Birdies and Bogeys, Presidents Cup style.

__Birdie:__Adam Scott -- With more pressure on him than most as a captain's pick, Scott was a solid partner with Ernie Els in their 2-and-1 win over Hunter Mahan and Sean O'Hair. Scott had struggled for most of the year, and was thought to be a stretch of a selection when tapped by fellow Aussie Greg Norman. But his swing held up and at the end he converted the clinching 4-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 17th to give the International Team its first points of the opening day. "Any victory is important, but, personally, for me, obviously, it feels great. ... I really enjoyed it, but it was hard work."

Bogey: Zach Johnson -- For smacking Camilo Villegas' caddie, Brett Waldman, with his tee shot on the par-4 10th hole. According to Rule 19.3, Johnson had the option to cancel the stroke and re-tee without penalty. He did, but the U.S. lost the hole, though Johnson and Kenny Perry rebounded to beat Villegas and Angel Cabrera, 2 up.

Birdie: Steve Stricker -- The 6-and-4 win over Geoff Ogilvy and Ryo Ishikawa wasn't all Tiger Woods. Stricker not only chipped in, he did it without throwing up. "I don't think I've ever been more nervous than I was today, certainly not in these team events," said Stricker, who had never before been paired in team play with the No. 1 player in the world. "I can see where it's hard to play with him, because you don't want to mess up or be a drag on what he's doing. But I made a good putt for a halve on the first hole, and that settled me down. It was a lot of pressure, but a lot of fun."

Bogey: The volunteer whose cell phone went off as Ogilvy was lining up a par putt on the third hole -- Ogilvy had to back off three times before he missed the putt to go 2 down to the hot Stricker-Woods team.

Birdie: Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson -- On the first day at Harding Park, the pair picked up where it left off at last year's Ryder Cup. Behind for most of the day to Mike Weir and Tim Clark, Mickelson and Kim rallied with four straight birdies to close out their match 3 and 2. Plus, Kim had the oversized belt buckle going again, which was nice.

__Bogey:__Justin Leonard -- The veteran's par putt on 18 was so short there was a question over whether the International team had conceded it. Good thing for them they didn't. Leonard missed, and the International team of Retief Goosen and Y.E. Yang stole off with a crucial half point.

Bogey: Goosen -- The above confusion was in large part because Goosen wasn't aware of the score. He thought the Internationals had lost, and thus went to congratulate Leonard and Jim Furyk, which the Americans construed as Goosen conceding Leonard's putt. Long story short: Goosen spaced.

Birdie: The International team -- When Leonard missed his three-footer, they all showed remarkable restraint in not exploding with glee, even if it was a half-point that may have salvaged their Presidents Cup chances.

Birdie: The American caddies -- In a sign of support for Michael Jordan, who was asked not to attend the President Cup Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, the American caddies all scrawled No. 23 on the side of their caps on Thursday. Hey, every little bit of motivation helps.

__Bogey:__Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink -- The reigning U.S. Open and British Open champion, respectively, never led and trailed for 15 of the 18 holes in losing to Vijay Singh and Robert Allenby, 1 up. The pair of U.S. major champions lost to a duo that hasn't won a PGA Tour event thus far in 2009.

-- Compiled by Dave Shedloski and Sam Weinman