At least the result was not unexpected. Scotland, whose embarrassments on their home links rank every bit as highly as on foreign football fields, only just squeezed through 2-1 against China.
But as Colin Montgomerie was being defeated by Zhang Lian-Wei, the Americans hardly put a foot wrong by outscoring their English opponents by 18 strokes. On a perfect autumnal day for golf, bright sunshine with a light but shrill breeze, Woods was the only player not to drop a stroke for his round.
The world No 1's six-under-par 66, compiled with worrying ease for those who will face him in the 2000 Open on this historic layout, left David Carter trailing eight behind, while O'Meara's 67 was seven better than Peter Baker's 74. Daly and Lee Westwood enjoyed an intriguing match until the young Englishman went out of bounds at the 17th, eventually losing 70-73.
"Sending John out in the top match put some pressure on him when he has not played for a while and I know how well Lee has been playing but they have not played together before and I thought that might be to our advantage."
Daly was slightly erratic over the opening holes but not with his putter and four birdies in six holes from the ninth edged the American in front. His tendency to push his drives early on was due to his aiming left and cutting the ball.
The solution was not one that would come naturally to other golfers. "I just teed the ball up higher and started swinging harder," Daly explained. "I needed to get through the ball and if you swing harder on the downswing you're bound to get through something." He added: "My ways may be a little different."
Westwood, who trailed the "Wild Thing" by 40 yards when they both hit their drivers at maximum force down the par-five 14th, was one behind on the 17th tee. Attempting the Tiger line over the Old Course Hotel, he ended up out of bounds. He did the same in practice and during The Open three years ago.
The man on the television tower on top of the hotel had to take evasive action. "The plan was to bounce the ball off room 414 - wasn't that obvious?" Westwood smiled. "I was trying to draw the ball off the TV tower with a fade." The double bogey six at the Road Hole made the winning margin look more comfortable for the 1995 Open champion.
"It was a pretty tight match, but to beat Europe's top player gives me a lot of confidence," Daly said. "This course always inspires me. I wish the Open could be played here every year."
Thanks to the group format England can still qualify for the semi-finals but they now have to win their remaining two matches over Sweden and Japan, and hope that one of those sides can upset the mighty USA. At that point, individual games won, aggregate score and inside leg measurements come into play.
Sweden matched the Americans' convincing start with a 3-0 win over Japan, while South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia also triumphed by the same score. The day's one upset was South Korea beating New Zealand, the runners- up two year ago, but Scotland only just escaped adding to their catalogue of disasters at the Home of Golf which includes defeats by Paraguay and India.
Zhang, a 33-year-old from Shenzhen who is ranked 532nd in the world, did follow the example of Raul Fretes and Gaurav Ghei in beating the Scottish captain. Montgomerie will be trying to win his sixth successive order of merit title at the end-of-season Volvo Masters later this month, but despite throwing a bogey, bogey finish at Monty, Zhang still won by a stroke with a level par 72.
Fortunately, Andrew Coltart had already beaten Cheng Jun 73-78 while Gary Orr, level playing the last, defeated Wu Xiang-Bing 75-76 when the Chinese player three-putted on the 18th green.
"So the ploy worked with Colin taking care of their danger man," Coltart chided his captain. "Just pretend it is the Volvo Masters you are playing in, Colin."
Coltart added: "This Paraguay and India thing is never going to leave us. Playing one of the smaller teams, they have nothing to lose and we have everything to lose. When you are three over after four holes, you are thinking what will the headlines be tomorrow."
A back nine containing 20 putts was Montgomerie's problem. "I holed nothing but if someone goes and wins, all credit to them," Monty said. "He played better on the day but my colleagues helped me out. It is always difficult to get two wins. The Far Eastern countries have improved a lot over the last 10 years. They can compete as well as anyone and they proved that again today."
DUNHILL RESULTS AND TEE-OFF TIMES
Sweden bt Japan 3-0 (Winners' names first): P Sjoland 69 bt H Fujita 77, M Gronberg 78 bt N Serizawa 79, P-U Johansson 71 bt K Miyamoto 76.
USA bt England 3-0: J Daly 70 bt L Westwood 73, T Woods 66 bt D Carter 74, M O'Meara 67 bt P Baker 74.
Scotland bt China 2-1: G Orr 75 bt Wu Xiang-bing 76, A Coltart 73 bt Cheng Jun 78, C Montgomerie 73 lost to Zhang Lian-wei 72.
Spain bt Ireland 2-1: S Luna 71 lost to D Clarke 71 at 22nd, MA Jimenez 70 bt P McGinley 72, JM Olazabal 73 bt P Harrington 75.
South Africa bt France 3-0: R Goosen 72 bt O Edmond 73, D Frost 70 bt T Levet 75, E Els 69 bt J Van de Velde 72.
Zimbabwe bt Germany 3-0: T Johnstone 69 bt S Struver 76, N Price 72 bt T Gogele 73, M McNulty 73 bt A Cejka 75.
South Korea bt New Zealand 2-1: Shin Yong-jin 75 bt M Long 76, Kang Wook- soon 71 bt F Nobilo 75, Kim Jong-duk 73 lost to G Turner 70.
Australia bt Argentina 3-0: S Appleby 66 bt J Coceres 77, C Parry 70 bt A Cabrera 75, S Elkington 70 bt E Romero 70 at 19th.
TODAY'S TEE-OFF TIMES
Zimbabwe v France
9.00 M McNulty v J Van de Velde
9.10 T Johnstone v T Levet
9.20 N Price v O Edmond
South Africa v Germany
9.30 D Frost v T Gogele
9.40 R Goosen v A Cejka
9.50 E Els v S Struver
New Zealand v Argentina
10.00 G Turner v E Romero
10.10 F Nobilo v A Cabrera
10.20 M Long v J Coceres
Australia v South Korea
10.30 C Parry v Shin Yong-jin
10.40 S Appleby v Kang Wook-soon
10.50 S Elkington v Kim Jong-duck
Spain v China
11.00 JM Olazabal v Wu Xiang-bing
11.10 MA Jimenez v Zhang Lian-wei
11.20 S Luna v Cheng Jun
Scotland v Ireland
11.30 A Coltart v D Clarke
11.40 G Orr v P Harrington
11.50 C Montgomerie v P McGinley
United States v Japan
12.00 J Daly v N Serizawa
12.10 T Woods v K Miyamoto
12.20 M O'Meara v H Fujita
Sweden v England
12.30 M Gronberg v L Westwood
12.40 P-U Johansson v D Carter
12.50 P Sjoland v P BakerReuse content