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Ten-stroke chasm threatens American grip on Chrysler Cup

Published Oct. 6, 2005

Chi Chi Rodriguez fought adversity for most of his life, but even the little man with the big heart admitted the task at hand today could be too much.

Rodriguez fired a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday at the TPC of Prestancia to help his U.S. teammates pull a bit closer to the international team in the Chrysler Cup.

But the Americans have a long way to go if they are to win this tournament for the seventh straight year and eighth time in nine.

They are 10 shots behind with one round to play. The international team is 45 under par, to the United States' 35 under par.

"A couple of us will have to shoot 63 or 64 for us to have a chance," Rodriguez said.

George Archer proved that it is possible, shooting a 9-under-par 63 to tie a course record (Charles Coody in 1991) and take the lead in the individual portion of the tournament. Archer's 36-hole total of 131, 13 under par, leads by three shots over South Africa's Simon Hobday, whose second straight 67 put him at 134.

But even Archer admitted today's task is a tall one.

"They're 45 under par. That's incredible," Archer said. "That's unbelievable scoring. Our score is good. But how are you going to make up ground? They're hot as a firecracker. It looks like they'll win, unless the Americans go crazy. And I hope we go crazy."

The match between the two eight-man teams is based on the top five scores per team each day. The team with the lowest cumulative score for 54 holes wins the Chrysler Cup. All 16 players also compete in a 54-hole stroke play competition.

The key again on Saturday was that the international team was able to get five players to score in the 60s: Hobday and South Africa's Gary Player each shot 67, Australia's Graham Marsh had 68, and England's Tommy Horton and Australia's Bruce Crampton each had 69. Combined they were 20 under par. The other players for the international team are Australia's Bruce Devlin (71) and South Africa's Harold Henning (72).

Other than Archer's 63, the Americans could only get Rodriguez's 66 and Tom Weiskopf's 67. Four players, Mike Hill, Jim Colbert, Al Geiberger and Miller Barber each shot 71. The five best Americans were 22 under par. Dave Stockton, the 1993 Senior PGA Tour player of the year, tied for the worst round, a par 72.

"We're not doing too well," said Weiskopf, the defending individual champion who had predicted another U.S. victory before the tournament. "I might have to eat my words.

"Mike Hill has not played well for him. Stockton I don't think is playing that well for him. I'm not trying to put the blame on anybody. You would just expect them probably to do better. But that is the game of golf. That's what makes it interesting."

Hobday, who is only three shots out of the individual lead, said he would concede that title to Archer if it assured a team victory.

"We're sick and tired of getting beat in this," said Hobday, who had two Senior PGA Tour victories in 1993. "We've been talking about this since last year."

Team times begin this morning at 11.