America cement their grip on cup

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The Independent Online

The American team of Fred Couples and Davis Love III won a fourth consecutive World Cup title yesterday. With final rounds of 69 and 67 respectively, their total of 543 helped them to equal the record four wins by their compatriots Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Their margin of 14 strokes over the second-placed Australians Robert Allenby and Brett Ogle on 557 was the same as their record margin last year in Puerto Rico. It was the third consecutive time they had led from start to finish and their combined total of 33-under-par was the second- lowest team total in the tournament's 41-year history.

In the individual event Love beat Japan's Hisayuki Sasaki at the fifth play-off hole after they tied on 267. "It was a goal of mine to win the individual - it is the only thing I have not done in this tournament. Fred [Couples] won last year and now we have one each," Love said. "We started well and stayed in front all the way so there was not much pressure. We have been asked to defend the title again in South Africa but we have not decided whether to go yet."

Sasaki would have become the first Japanese player to top the individual standings since Torakichi Nokamura in 1957 but the 30-year-old froze in the play-off. "I had a good week but now I feel a bit bad as I let the tournament slip," said Sasaki, who will play in the US PGA qualifying school in two weeks. "I am in the top 10 in Japan and I want to see how I can do in the United States."

A 68 from Ogle and 70 by Allenby pulled Australia into second place in the team event but the real drama involved Scotland's Sam Torrance. With Scotland (Torrance and Andrew Coltart) poised to join Australia in second position, Torrance had a bogey five at the last for a 69 after accusing a spectator of picking up his ball.

Scotland finished tied with Japan for third place on 558 with Torrance taking third spot in the individual competition, four shots behind Love and Sasaki. "Some bastard picked it [the ball] up - no doubt about it," Torrance said. "Exactly the same happened to Frank Nobilo yesterday. I am not sour but I am sad - it was a bit expensive for us in the individual event."

The Irish duo of Darren Clarke and Philip Walton finished equal sixth with 561. Wales's Mark Mouland and Phillip Price finished down the field on 570 with England's Mark Roe and Paul Broadhurst further back on 580.

n The defending champion Britain's Laura Davies, hit a 70 yesterday to finish on 211 and seal her third win on the Japan tour, the Itoen Ladies tournament in Chonan, by two strokes after Mayumi Hirase, of Japan, bogeyed the last two holes to squander her chance of victory.