USA home favourites for Presidents Cup
The United States go into this week's Presidents Cup against the Internationals banking on home advantage to lift them to their fourth triumph in six editions of the biennial competition.
The U.S. won on all three previous occasions that the team competition has been held on American soil, while the Internationals tasted victory the first time the event was moved abroad -- to Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia, in 1998.
The last match, in 2003 at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate outside George in South Africa, was shared after the sides ended four days of regulation play level on 17 points.
American Davis Love III, the only player in Presidents Cup history with more than 12 wins, believes the Ryder Cup-style contest has quickly come into its own as one of the game's premier events.
"Going overseas for the second time and having a close match, and obviously the tie was a new twist, I think that certainly it made it a lot more interesting," he told reporters at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
"And then when we started losing and getting it rubbed in for two years, it certainly gets a lot more intense.
"We beat them so bad here the last time, they wanted to beat us bad in South Africa, and it was a close match.
"I think home course helps," the 1997 U.S. PGA champion added. "We like the golf course and we've got confidence here.
"I know after playing in Australia and then after South Africa, we looked forward to coming back here because we have a lot of confidence playing here."
The Presidents Cup, created in 1994 to give the world's best non-European players the chance to take part in international team match-play competition, may not have the tradition of the Ryder Cup but it is contested just as keenly by the players.
"It's certainly not as loud and as boisterous as the Ryder Cup," said world number one Tiger Woods.
"You hear a lot of chanting at Ryder Cups and you don't hear it as much at the Presidents Cup.
"But from the players' standpoint, it's still a lot of pressure out there and you're still trying to win your match, win your point, and that's all you care about once you get on that first tee, getting a point for your team.
"You have to let everything else just roll off your shoulders and go out there and team up with your partner and hopefully get the job done."
The inaugural Presidents Cup was staged at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in September 1994 when the U.S. team, skippered by three-times U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, beat David Graham's Internationals 20-12.
Two years later, the event was held at the same venue with the Arnold Palmer-captained U.S. side retaining their title, edging Peter Thomson's Internationals by 16-1/2 points to 15-1/2.
However, the Internationals gained significant revenge when the matches were shifted to Melbourne in December 1998.
With Thomson back at the helm, the host team hammered the Jack Nicklaus-led Americans by 20-1/2 points to 11-1/2, giving the competition a much-needed shot in the arm.
The fourth edition returned to the inaugural venue in 2000 amid much anticipation that the Internationals, inspired by Nick Price, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, could level the series.
But the U.S., boosted by a red-hot start in the opening day foursomes which put them 5-0 up, went into the last-day singles needing just 2-1/2 points to seal victory and regain the trophy.
David Duval won the second match 2 and 1 against Price, Loren Roberts completed a 3 and 2 win over Australia's Stuart Appleby in match three and Love clinched the cup by beating the then world number two Els 4 and 3 in match five.
The U.S. ended up winning seven of the 12 singles encounters, with one halved, to take back the Presidents Cup by 21-1/2 points to 10-1/2.
Three years later, honours were shared after four riveting days of fluctuating fortunes.
The Americans went into the last day trailing by three points but 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk inspired a fightback in the first singles match out with a 3 and 1 victory over U.S. Masters winner Mike Weir of Canada.
Woods, displaying his best form of the week, beat Els 4 and 3 and Chris DiMarco won the penultimate tie one up against Australia's Stuart Appleby to leave the teams level on 16-1/2 points with just one match out on the course.
As dusk fast approached, Love halved with Australia's Robert Allenby and Woods and Els then parred the first three extra holes in an unprecedented playoff for the title before the captains agreed the trophy would be shared for the first time.
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