- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2005

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. — With the way Mark Hensby played yesterday, he was lucky his partner was the No. 2 player in the world.

Vijay Singh made up for Hensby’s mistakes, and the pair salvaged a halve against American duo Fred Funk and Jim Furyk.

“It was more pressure than I would have expected,” Hensby said. “We didn’t combine very well hitting fairways.”

Hensby unraveled on Robert Trent Jones’ front nine. His tee shot on No. 1 found a right-fairway bunker about 300 yards from the tee, but Singh bailed him out by blasting out of the bunker and onto the fringe about 10 feet behind the pin.

On No. 3’s 555-yard par 5 — another dogleg right — Hensby’s tee shot was in the left rough. Singh came to the rescue again, playing Hensby’s ball out of the rough and back onto the fairway for an easy approach.

On No. 5, Hensby missed a birdie putt from around eight feet that would have won the hole. But his biggest gaffe was on the par-3, 190-yard ninth hole when he shoved a 3-footer past the cup.

International captain Gary Player paired Singh with South African Tim Clark for today’s four-ball match against Americans Stewart Cink and Funk.

Dynamic Dallas duo

Americans Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard gave the U.S. team it’s most resounding victory with a 4 and 2 destruction of the Australian duo of Peter Lonard and Stuart Appleby.

Verplank and Leonard, who are both Dallas natives, have wanted to pair up in a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup for a while.

“We did ask to be put together,” Verplank said. “We’ve actually … we’ve talked about it for 10 years, being partners on the team. So when [Leonard] got picked, that night we talked, and we kind of knew we were going to play together. We actually came up here about three weeks ago together and played a couple rounds.”

Jack Nicklaus was impressed enough with the pairing that he kept the Texans together today against Canadian Mike Weir and young South African Trevor Immelman in four-ball competition.

“We’re both from Dallas. He’s a little younger than I am, but we’ve been friends a long time,” Verplank said. “We’ve played a lot of practice rounds together. We’re very comfortable with each other, and we enjoy each other’s company. So we were excited to play, and after we got off to a little shaky start, really — I hit a couple of squirrely iron shots starting off — but once we got over that, we were pretty solid together.”

Double presidential sendoff

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton delivered opening ceremony statements. The two have been inseparable of late, raising money for tsunami victims in Asia and spearheading Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

President Clinton was dressed more casually, wearing a green and white striped polo shirt and khaki pants when the first group teed off.

“You could feel the excitement on the first tee with everybody concerned, and I was standing next to President Clinton, and he said to me, ‘Wow, what a match.’ At the same time, I’m thinking, ‘Isn’t this fantastic?’ ” International captain Gary Player said. “Here is the No. 1 player in the world [Tiger Woods] teeing off first at this wonderful event, and here are two ex-presidents of the United States, and my mind wanders for a minute.”

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