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U.S. team closer to defending Cup title

MELBOURNE, Australia — Two perfect teams and a point for Tiger Woods.

That was all the Americans needed early today in the rain at Royal Melbourne to build an 11-6 lead in the Presidents Cup over the International team.

The Americans went 4-1 in the foursomes session, with five fourballs matches scheduled later for today, Day 3 of the event.

Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk won four out of five holes on the back nine, and Mickelson polished off Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day by holing a 50-foot birdie on No. 17. Mickelson and Furyk won all three matches they played together, as did Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

"We turned it around," Mickelson said. "We fought hard, and we ended up having a nice run on the back nine."

U.S. captain Fred Couples sat David Toms and Mickelson in the afternoon session. Couples said Mickelson offered to sit if needed, ending a streak of 32 consecutive matches played in the competition for "Lefty."

Woods played with Dustin Johnson, and while it wasn't pretty, it was finally a point.

They trailed early until winning consecutive holes with pars as Adam Scott and K.J. Choi struggled. Woods and Johnson went 1 up on No. 13 when the International team conceded before reaching the green, and the Americans went 2 up on the next hole after Scott and Choi made another bogey.

Woods closed the match with a 20-foot birdie on No. 16.

"It was a day of patience," Woods said. "The weather was kind of iffy, the greens are another different speed."

The International team picked up its only point behind Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa, who beat Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar 1 up.

LPGA: Na Yeon Choi shot 1-under 71 in swirling wind for a one-stroke lead over Sandra Gal after two rounds of the season-ending Titleholders at Grand Cypress in Orlando. Choi was at 7-under 137. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (75) was at 1-over 145.

CHAMPIONS: Jeff Freeman, a club pro at the Country Club of Orlando, won the National Qualifying event, shooting his fourth straight 5-under 66 at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.) The top five earned fully exempt status on the tour for 2012, but Freeman must wait until he turns 50 in April.

U.S. team closer to defending Cup title 11/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2011 10:54pm]
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