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The galleries and media were clamoring for Woods to play Adam Scott, No. 2 in the world, or maybe a wily veteran like Angel Cabrera, winner of a couple of major championships during the Woods era.

Instead they got a little (5-foot-7, 150 pounds) and little known South African against the man who makes headlines with everything he does and says.

“It’s when people want to go,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “People just asked me, `Why did you put Tiger up against Richard?’ Personally, Tiger has talked a little about Richard and his game this week. They have not played each other. But it just came to the point where Tiger goes anywhere from seventh to ninth in the singles (so his point will still matter) and we just didn’t want to wait any longer. So we put him there.”

Still, Woods needed to go to the final hole and the final putt to hold off Sterne 1-up, also clinching the Cup for the United States.

“We made the pairings this morning to try to win the Cup,” Price said. “Not to put 1 and 2 together, or 3 and 4 together.”

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NICK THE FATALIST: His International team trailed 14-8 heading into singles and captain Nick Price knew enough about international competition to recognize the U.S. lead was virtually insurmountable.

Price was emotional as he talked about his team, what it had done so far, and what it would face in singles.

“This has been a really, really strong team from the get-go,” he said. “As I look back, they have played their tails off this week. They have played really, really hard. It’s disappointing to go into today with a 6-point deficit.

“I’m trying to stay up for my players because they are the ones who have done all the playing, not me. I’ve been out there on the sideline trying to cheer them on. But, you know, it’s going to be a tough day.”

It was a tough day in terms of the final result. But his team ended up winning 7 1/2 of the 12 points in singles.

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THE WEATHER: It rained, hard at times Sunday, but say this much for the competitors at the Presidents Cup _ they played on.

Tiger Woods was playing the third and fourth holes when it began to rain so hard that it was difficult to even see 300 yards up the fairway. But he and Sterne continued on, as did every one of the other 22 players on the course.

The sun never made an appearance, but the temperatures stayed in the 70s and the fans remained supportive.

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