ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) _ Weakened by callups to next week's Presidents Cup, the United States lost 2-1 to Australia at the Dunhill Cup Thursday and needs to beat a strong Argentine team to stay in the competition.

John Daly, playing on the Old Course where he won the 1995 British Open and carrying a Dunhill Cup match record of 8-1, lost by three strokes to Stephen Leaney, who had seven birdies in a 67.

Then Aussie left-hander Nick O'Hern carded a seven-birdie 65 to beat Dunhill Cup rookie Larry Mize by six strokes, before Tom Lehman's 68 salvaged a five-stroke victory over Peter O'Malley.

The United States usually sends its strongest available team to this competition, first played in 1985. But next week's Presidents Cup against an International team at the Robert Trent Jones Club in Gainesville, Va., has kept most of the top players, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval, at home.

``I think our guys played well,'' said Lehman, the American team captain, who is playing both the Dunhill and Presidents Cup tournaments. ``It's just that the Australian team played extremely well. Seven under and five under, that's good golf around here.''

On Friday, the Americans meet a second-seeded Argentine trio of Eduardo Romero, Angel Cabrera and Jose Coceres, who downed Japan 3-0.

Romero's 70 beat Tetsu Nishikawa by two, Cabrera carded a 70 to defeat 58-year-old Isao Aoki by one, and Coceres shot a 65 to down Tsusaka Watanabe by six.

Aiming for a third Dunhill Cup title in four years, Ernie Els and his South African team began with a 2-1 victory over France.

Els and David Frost each carded 68s at the home of golf for six-stroke victories over Jean Francois Remesy and Thomas Levet, while Retief Goosen lost by two to Raphael Jacquelin's 70.

Germany's Sven Struver upstaged one of the big names in the event, beating Scotland's Colin Montgomerie by four strokes with a 66 in Germany's 2-1 triumph.

In other matches, defending champion Spain overpowered China 3-0, the same score by which Wales beat England. Sweden defeated Zimbabwe and Ireland downed New Zealand, both by 2-1.

Struver's triumph over Montgomerie probably was the biggest upset of the day.

The match was tied 1-1 after Bernhard Langer's 68 downed Gary Orr by two and Andrew Coltart's 70 defeated Thomas Gogele by one.

``This is one of the best days of my career,'' Struver said. ``I showed my emotions on the 18th green because I enjoyed this win.''

Montgomerie, whose team needs to beat England for the first time Friday after five losses, wasn't downcast.

``It's not all lost,'' he said. ``We've got two games left, and if we win then 3-0, it should be OK.''

For Spain, Miguel Angel Jimenez carded 66 and beat Wu Xiang Bing by 13 shots. Muguel Angel Martin shot 70 to defeat Zhang Lian Wei by one, and Jose Maria Olazabal birdied six of the first 11 holes in a 66 to beat Liang Wen Chong by five.