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Japan hold off USA for World Cup win

Japan rallied from a two-shot deficit with two holes to play to claim victory over the United States in the $3 million World Cup.

Shigeki Maruyama and Toshi Izawa finished four rounds over the Vista Vallarta course with a 36-under-par total, two shots ahead of the U.S. team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms.

Korea was another four shots behind the American team in a tie for third place with England, while defending champion South Africa placed fifth at 29 under.

"We were aiming for 36-under at the beginning," Maruyama said of Japan's strategy for the final round. "We knew there was going to be at least one team that would be chasing us, and it was the U.S. team."

Maruyama and Izawa had a six-under 66 on Sunday, while Mickelson and Toms shot a 65.

"I'm not sure that I won the tournament," said Izawa. "It's rather, I feel that the 72 holes is done. This year, I didn't play very well, but at the end of the year, winning such a big event is a very nice way to end the year."

The Japanese pair earned $500,000 each for the victory.

Playing the alternate-shot format, Mickelson and Toms charged into the tournament lead for the first time on the back nine.

The U.S. pair birdied the short par-four 13th hole to reach 35 under, while the Japanese recorded a double-bogey at the 13th after Maruyama hit his approach into the bunker, giving the U.S. a one-shot advantage.

With no other teams within four shots, the tournament became a duel between Japan and the Americans and until the 18th hole, it appeared as though the U.S. would win its 24th title in this event.

Mickelson and Toms increased their lead to two strokes when Toms hit sand wedge to one foot on the 16th hole and Mickelson knocked in the putt.

But Japan gathered itself and recorded birdies on the 16th and 17th to draw even.

Then Mickelson, guarding against water on the left of the 18th fairway, hit his tee shot in the right-hand rough, leaving Toms with a poor lie and the ball above his feet.

After fiddling over the shot for several minutes, Toms hit his approach from 130 yards to the left and the ball ran alongside the green before trickling into the hazard.

Although the ball was dry, Mickelson opted for a drop, then ran the team's fourth shot 15 feet past the hole before Toms' two-putted for a double-bogey six.

"I had a difficult shot, but at the same time, (I) just hit a bad shot," Toms said of his six-iron approach.

"I couldn't get over the tree and just pulled it. I was trying to keep the face open so it wouldn't go left, but I hit a bad shot."

Japan then completed a par-four with Maruyama's tap-in to give them their second victory in the event. Japan's only previous win came in the 1957 tournament.

"The format of the tournament is different," said Maruyama. But I'm sure that it showed that Japan can play a little better golf now and I'm happy with that."

252 Japan (Shigeki Maruyama, Toshimitsu Izawa) 64 64 58 66 (£635,727)

254 United States (Phil Mickelson, David Toms) 65 67 57 65 (£317,863)

258 South Korea (KJ Coi, SK Ho) 61 67 64 66, England (Justin Rose, Paul Casey) 65 63 62 68 (£143,038 each)

259 South Africa (Rory Sabbatini, Tim Clark) 62 64 62 71

260 Argentina (Eduardo Romero, Angel Cabrera) 64 68 62 66, Australia (Craig Parry, Adam Scott) 60 67 65 68

261 Ireland (Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley) 64 67 62 68, Canada (Ian Leggatt, Mike Weir) 59 67 64 71

262 Fiji (Vijay Singh, Dinesh Chand) 63 62 62 75

263 Denmark (Anders Hansen, Soren Hansen) 63 70 62 68

265 Wales (Ian Woosnam, Bradley Dredge) 63 68 65 69, Scotland (Paul Lawrie, Alastair Forsyth) 63 65 62 75

266 Sweden (Carl Pettersson, Niclas Fasth) 62 71 64 69, Switzerland (Marc Chatelain, Andre Bossert) 63 67 65 71

268 Myanmar (Soe Kyaw Naing, Kyi Hla Han) 66 66 64 72

270 New Zealand (Craig Perks, Michael Campbell) 65 73 64 68, Singapore (Mardan Mamat, Chi-bing Lam) 70 65 65 70, France (Thomas Levet, Raphael Jacquelin) 61 72 64 73, Trinidad and Tobago (Stephen Ames, Robert Ames) 63 66 64 77

271 Germany (Sven Struver, Alex Cejka) 67 69 64 71

274 Venezuela (Jamie Acevedo, Carlos Larrain) 66 67 72 69

277 Mexico (Estebaln Toledo, Pablo del Olmo) 68 72 66 71, Colombia (Jesus Amaya, Rigoberto Velasquez) 66 68 69 74

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