Daly, O’Meara, Tiger Lead U.S. Team
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) _ Tiger Woods was flawless. Mark O’Meara was masterful. John Daly, with the highest score of the trio, was simply inspiring.
Woods fired a 6-under-par 66, O’Meara a 67 and Daly a 70 at the home of golf Thursday as the United States crushed England 3-0 at the Dunhill Cup.
Woods played flawless golf in a bogey-free round in his debut in the $1.67 million championship and O’Meara followed up his Masters and British Open triumphs with an eagle and five birdies, sinking a 45-foot putt on the last hole.
But the pressure was on Daly, and he came through with a hard-earned victory to earn praise from his teammates.
Still struggling to keep his fragile game together as he maintains his battle against alcoholism and gambling addictions, Daly was up against one of the world’s emerging stars, Lee Westwood.
Driving wildly to the right, he landed in deep pot bunkers and in bushes as he bogeyed the fifth and sixth holes to fall behind. But, playing on the course where he won the British Open in 1995, Daly got his round together and birdied 9, 10, 12 and 14 for a 2-under 70 to defeat Westwood by three strokes.
``It’s just awesome for me to come back to a course I love, and to beat Lee gives me confidence,″ Daly said. ``The course inspires me all the time. I wish the British Open were played here every year.″
Daly was under pressure to drop off the team after he suffered an attack of the shakes during the Greater Vancouver Open two months ago.
``I was going to do anything to play here. There was no real question in my mind that I was going to play here, and I told that to Tiger and Mark. I had that down moment to get through at Vancouver, and I’m very proud of myself that I did get through it.″
O’Meara said Daly’s form against Westwood justified his decision to put him up against England’s top player. Woods said he was inspired by Daly’s performance.
``What gave me a big boost was seeing John out there playing well, and when he got ahead of Lee that fired me up,″ Woods said. ``More than anything, I had extra motivation seeing John out there doing really well.″
With only one team from each group advancing to Sunday’s final stages, the Americans, who are favored to win the Dunhill Cup for the fourth time, likely will be strongly challenged by the Swedes on Saturday.
Led by Per Ulrik Johansson, Sweden overpowered Japan 3-0 with Johansson carding a 71 to beat Katsuma Miyamoto by five strokes.
Colin Montgomerie, who has lost to opponents from Paraguay and India in this tournament in the past, was stunned by Zhang Lian-wei as China made its debut in the championship.
Fortunately for the Scottish captain, who was playing last, Gary Orr and Andrew Coltart had already clinched victory for his team to avoid another embarrassing loss.
Orr carded a 75 for a one-stroke victory over Wu Xiang-bing and Coltart had a 73 to beat Cheng Jun by five, while Spain, led by Jose Maria Olazabal’s two-stroke victory over Padraig Harrington, edged Ireland 2-1.
Defending titlist South Africa scored a 3-0 victory over France with Ernie Els shooing a 69 to beat Jean Van de Velde by three. Zimbabwe, with Nick Price carding a 72 to down Thomas Gogele by one, scored a 3-0 victory over Germany in another Group 3 match.
Australia, seeded two behind the Americans, overpowered Argentina 3-0 in Group 4, although former PGA titlist Steve Elkington needed an extra hole to beat Eduardo Romero after they both carded 70s.
South Korea scored an upset 2-1 victory over New Zealand, which was a losing finalist two years ago and semifinalist last year.