Golf: Couples and Love find perfect harmony: American combinations prove unbeatable in team competition this year after successful World Cup defence

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The Independent Online
NO ONE has been able to beat the United States in team competition this year. The opposing Walker Cup side was squashed like 10 small bugs. The Ryder Cup was more of a challenge, but after that the coasting began, and the Dunhill and World Cups were easily swept into the American trophy cabinet.

With a 68 for Fred Couples and a 70 by Davis Love III, the Americans successfully defended their World Cup title yesterday, finishing at 20 under par and beating Zimbabwe by five strokes. It was the 19th time the United States has won the World Cup in the 40-year history of the event.

Couples and Love took command from the start of the final round. Nick Price and Mark McNulty, of Zimbabwe, did their best to make the contest occasionally interesting, but two strokes was as close as they could get.

The first sign that the Cup competition was all but over came on the first when Couples hit his drive in the rough, missed the green with his second, and sent his chip screaming across the green, heading for oblivion until it slammed into the flagstick and dropped straight into the cup. Love negated the birdie when he three-putted from 60 feet, but even so the US had widened their lead to four strokes.

'The team that played the best won. I don't think anyone could have beaten them this week,' Price said.

Scotland finished third at 11 under par, despite a 73 by Sam Torrance that took him out of any contention for the International Trophy, the prize given to the tournament's individual low scorer. Bernhard Langer won that honour, finishing at 16 under par, three ahead of Couples, and a better score than any team but the Americans managed. Langer had just two bogeys in 72 holes. Germany finished eighth with Sven Struver's 11 over par keeping them from contending for the main trophy. 'You can't get frustrated with the way your partner is playing,' Langer said. 'I tried to help him, but there is nothing that you can do. It must have been very difficult for him to play so poorly when I was playing so well. If he'd played reasonably we might have won, if he'd played well, we definitely would have.'

Colin Montgomerie at least, was happy with third place. 'I'm glad I got myself back to four under par, and Sam and I got on well, played well, and had a lot of fun. It was always going to be difficult to beat Zimabawe and America. Zimbabwe because they know the golf course so well, and the Americans because they are such good players. So, if you think about it, we beat all comers.'

WORLD CUP (Lake Nona) Leading final-round scores: 556 United States (F Couples 66 71 70 68, D Love 71 69 71 70). 561 Zimbabwe (N Price 70 69 71 68, M McNulty 71 68 72 72). 565 Scotland (C Montgomerie 75 70 69 70, S Torrance 68 69 71 73). 566 Australia (R Allenby 72 68 70 70, R Davis 70 70 72 74). 567 Spain (J Rivero 73 72 66 74, M- A Jimenez 72 70 72 68). 568 New Zealand (F Nobilo 74 69 69 71, G Turner 73 73 64 75); South Africa (E Els 69 71 72 66, R Goosen 71 74 69 76). 571 Germany (B Langer 69 68 66 69, S Struver 74 75 74 76). 573 Ireland (R Rafferty 71 69 73 71, P McGinley 72 71 73 73); Italy (C Rocca 71 75 67 70, S Grappasonni 74 72 69 75). 574 England (D Gilford 69 73 72 72, M James 76 74 68 70); Canada (D Barr 74 70 70 71, R Zokol 76 71 70 72). 575 Sweden (J Haeggman 72 77 72 72, A Forsbrand 71 69 74 68); France (J Van de Velde 66 70 71 72, M Farry 74 78 72 72). 579 Paraguay (P Martinez 74 73 69 71, F Franco 73 73 69 77). 582 Wales (I Woosnam 74 79 74 69, M Mouland 68 70 75 73).

The European gravy train, page 32

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