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There was early cause for concern.

K.T. Kim, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Ryo Ishikawa built big leads early as the raucous Australian crowd came to life. Geoff Ogilvy knocked in a 60-foot putt on the 12th hole in the fourth match as the scoreboard filled up with blue numbers.

“I started to think, ‘Wow, this is going to be some day,’” Couples said.

But veterans Woods, Furyk, David Toms and Steve Stricker didn’t let him down. Stricker, competing for the first time in nearly two months because of a neck injury, closed out Y.E. Yang for the final point.

The Americans not only won the cup for the fourth straight time, but it was the third consecutive win by at least four points. They now lead the series 7-1-1 and earned a small measure of revenge for the last time Down Under.

Ogilvy and Schwartzel led the way for the International team, each with a 3-1-1 record. In one of the more classier moments, Haas decided not to concede a 15-foot putt to Ogilvy on the last hole, even though he had three putts to win the match. Haas wanted to give him the chance to make it before his home crowd in Melbourne. Ogilvy missed.

It was a tough way for Norman to go out in his second stint as International captain _ both losses to Couples, this one on a Royal Melbourne course in his native Australia where the Shark is revered.

He had five Australians on his team, and used his captain’s picks on two players who grew up on the sand belt courses of Melbourne. Baddeley went 1-3-1, while Robert Allenby was 0-4, the first captain’s pick since John Huston in 1998 to not win a point.

Norman attributed yet another loss to the foursomes matches, where the Americans had an 8-3 advantage.

“The last three years have gone so similar,” Ogilvy said. “We go into singles needing a miracle.”

As for Woods?

“He stepped up to the plate. He putted extremely well,” Norman said. “Any player hates to see another great player struggle, because we all know what it’s like to go through the ins and outs of the game. At the end of the day, you want to see the player who has dominated the game come back.”

Norman didn’t change his opinion of Couples‘ selection, though.

“I probably still would have gone for Keegan Bradley because he’s a major champion,” Norman said.

Norman could only watch as Woods hit his bunker shot that secured the match, and the final point, before congratulating Couples. It’s getting to be quite a familiar image in an event that began in 1994 and has had a distinctive Stars & Stripes look to it.

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