Golf: Excellent US team assumes command

Click to follow
THE pressure was on the International team from the start of the Presidents Cup matches yesterday. They were playing in a Ryder Cup style format for the first time and missing some of their biggest names, with Greg Norman ill and Ernie Els at the Dunhill Masters. The pressure was even greater after the completion of the morning fourballs as the Internationals were swept by the United States team.

The US picked up five points in the morning matches with only one going to the 18th hole. In the afternoon foursomes the US took the first two points but then lost the next two matches, with Davis Love III and Jim Gallagher Jnr halving the fifth with Nick Price and Mark McNulty. The US enters today's second day with a 7 1/2 -2 1/2 lead over the Internationals.

The entire US team played extremely well, even those, like Love and Gallagher, who were struggling with their games coming into this week. The strongest teaming among the Americans was, surprisingly, Jay Haas and Scott Hoch. They trounced the South Africans Fulton Allem and David Frost in the morning fourballs 6 and 5 and beat Craig Parry, of Australia, and Japan's Tsukasa Watanabe 4 and 3 in foursomes, despite losing the sixth hole on a rules infraction.

Though the atmosphere here is decidedly of a lower wattage than a Ryder Cup, it is undeniably higher than a regular tournament. There has also been a noticeable elevation of games by these players, particularly the Americans. In the morning fourballs, they had 52 birdies and two eagles, the Internationals 33 birdies and one eagle, the result of Nick Price holing a 5- iron from 192 yards on the 13th.

Couples said, after the morning matches: 'It was a little shocking to win every match, but as this goes on I don't think we'll beat them easily, though obviously they miss Greg Norman.'

THE PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, announced yesterday that John Daly would not compete again in 1994. Daly voluntarily stepped away from the Tour, apparently to escape suspension. 'We felt jointly he needed to take time off,' Finchem said. 'He has physical problems with his back and clearly has things beyond the physical that he has to deal with. This obviously comes after a history of having difficulties meeting our expectations for his bahaviour.' This summer, among other adventures, Daly accused other players of taking drugs and then had a scuffle with the father of a fellow professional.

Scores, Sporting digest, page 23