- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia  — So much about this Presidents Cup resembles the last time it was played at Royal Melbourne, from the sudden drop in temperatures to Tiger Woods winning only one point to a final day that holds so little drama.

The difference is the team on the verge of hoisting the gold cup.

The Americans built a big lead Saturday morning in the foursomes matches, with Woods finally rewarded with a point, then turned back a rally from the International team in the worst of the weather in the afternoon by capturing the final two matches.

“We needed those two points really bad,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “And they got them for us.”

Hunter Mahan delivered the most emotional moment of the week, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th right after Jason Day charged up the Australian crowd with an even longer birdie putt which he celebrated as if the match would be extended. Instead, Mahan and Bill Haas had a 2-and-1 win.

Moments later, Jim Furyk finished off the wild day with a clutch bunker shot on the 16th hole, and Nick Watney secured a par on the final hole for a 1-up decision over Adam Scott and Ernie Els that changed everything.

Those last two wins gave the Americans a 13-9 lead going into the 12 singles matches Sunday, a deficit from which no team has recovered in the 17-year history of this tournament.

The largest rally in any team event was when the Americans came from four points down to win the 1999 Ryder Cup. International captain Greg Norman didn’t wag his finger and say he had a good feeling about this, as Ben Crenshaw did at Brookline.

He wasn’t giving up, either, nor was his team.

“It’s going to have to be a remarkable day tomorrow,” Scott said. “But we have a shot. That’s all we can ask for. It’s not over.”

The only time the International side has won this event was at Royal Melbourne in 1998, when it had a nine-point lead going into the Sunday singles and the cup was won as breakfast was still being served.

Woods was 1-3 that year going into the final day, only he wasn’t alone. None of the Americans played well, leading to their worst loss ever in any team competition.

Woods finally put up a point Saturday morning in foursomes with Dustin Johnson. It wasn’t pretty, but they forged ahead with a few pars and Woods ended the match by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt. In the afternoon, Woods couldn’t buy a putt. Despite putting for birdie on every hole — only one of those from off the green — he missed nine putts from about 15 feet and closer.

That included the 18th hole, when he missed a putt for a halve, and K.T. Kim knocked in a 6-foot par to give him and Y.E. Yang their first win of the week.

“It’s all about making putts in match play, and we didn’t do that,” Woods said. “It just one of those things where that’s how it all turns out. But hey, right now we’ve got a nice lead. And hopefully, tomorrow we can get the four-and-a-half points we need.”

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