- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2005

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. — Just call them Team Spasms.

The duo of Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk suffered back and rib spasms yesterday, but still managed to close out the Australian team of Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby with relative ease 3 and 2.

For Woods, bad back and all, it was the first time he won a four-ball match in the Presidents Cup after six losses.

Chiropractor and physiotherapist Tom LaFountain is quickly becoming the team’s hero. Thursday, LaFountain worked on Furyk, who was able to finish his round. Yesterday, LaFountain kept the world’s No.1 player on the course.

“I have a couple rib heads that are out and causing some spasm and pain, it’s just a matter of keeping it pain-free and loose where I can swing,” Woods said. “Tom did an awesome job of getting me to where I could swing the golf club, which was not exactly easy to do.”

Coming into yesterday’s play, it was uncertain if Furyk was going to play after struggling with strained ribs from back spasms Thursday. Meanwhile, LaFountain administered frequent ice applications to Woods’ back and performed some soft tissue work.

When asked how his back felt after yesterday’s round, Woods said: “Sore. It’s real sore.”

Meanwhile, Furyk’s take on his spasms was better than Woods’.

“They’re doing better,” he said. “I’ve got a lot more movement. I have no complaints.”

U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus paired Furyk and Woods again today for the morning foursomes against Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby. Nicklaus pointed out today’s tee time at 7:40 a.m. should answer all questions about whether Woods and Furyk are able to play.

“I think Jim got much better as the day went on. We congratulate him for carrying Tiger through the match,” Nicklaus joked. “And of course, Furyk said he played terrible and Tiger played wonderful.”

Player: No problem

International captain Gary Player said his players shouldn’t worry about RTJ’s pro-American gallery. He has seen worse when he represented South Africa, which practiced apartheid, on the world stage.

“What I learned in golf is what no golfer has ever experienced in their life, and that’s wanting to be killed every day for two years and having telephone books thrown in your back, and ice in your eyes, charging you on the green and screaming when you have a 1-foot putt,” Player said. “So, what I hear out there, for me, is irrelevant. It’s Mickey Mouse compared to what I went through.”

The next Ernie?

With South African star Ernie Els, the world’s No. 4-ranked player, opting for knee surgery instead of playing in this Presidents Cup, New Zealander Michael Campbell believes he has the game to fill Els’ immense shoes.

Campbell, who won this year’s U.S. Open, is undefeated after two matches in this tournament. Campbell is ranked 15th in the world. Els has a 10-8-2 record in three Presidents Cups.

“I feel the expectations are greater due to obviously my world ranking and my being labeled a major winner,” said Campbell, who teamed up with Argentinian Angel Cabrera again in yesterday’s four-ball and halved a match against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco. “Without Ernie being here, I’ve had a little bit more [expectations] I would say. I think when you do those sort of things, you’ve got your responsibilities and I believe that I can fill [Els’] shoes, and it’s showed the last couple days.”

In Thursday’s foursomes, Campbell and Cabrera defeated Americans Davis Love III and Kenny Perry 2 and 1.

“I’ve played OK, with a win yesterday and a halve today, so I haven’t lost yet,” Campbell said.

Captain Tom

There was a Tom Lehman sighting yesterday at RTJ.

Apparently, Lehman was on a scouting trip yesterday with his 10-year-old son, Thomas, who was riding shotgun in a golf cart. Lehman takes over from Hal Sutton as the new U.S. Ryder Cup captain next year at the K Club in Straffan, Ireland.

Lehman has a huge job ahead of him: Bring the Ryder Cup back to the States after Sutton’s disaster near Detroit last year when the U.S. lost by a record nine points to the Europeans.

Weather delay

Yesterday’s four-ball action was delayed 1 hour, 20 minutes when lightning was sighted over RTJ.

That break seemed to give the International team time to regroup during a U.S. run. After play resumed at 5:04 p.m., the United States had to settle for a 3-3 day against the Internationals.

“I was quite relieved when we had that little delay there for a while,” Player said. “The U.S. team had great momentum going, not that they didn’t continue to any degree, but I just think it gave us a breather. And prior to the delay, I would have settled for a one-shot lead. So, I thought we were a little bit on the fortunate side.”

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