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Americans reclaim Presidents Cup

The Americans got their revenge in the Presidents Cup and gave captain Ken Venturi the perfect ending to his career.

The Americans got their revenge in the Presidents Cup and gave captain Ken Venturi the perfect ending to his career.

Hammered and humiliated in Australia two years ago, the American team - and yes, they were a team - played inspired golf from the opening match and turned the tables on the International team.

Not only did they reclaim the cup, they handed out an even worse beating than they took in the "Massacre at Melbourne" in 1998.

Notah Begay closed out the matches with a 1-up victory over Retief Goosen, giving the Americans the biggest rout ever in the Presidents Cup - 21 1/2-10 1/2 - and their largest margin of victory in any cup since a 15-point win in the 1967 Ryder Cup.

"We didn't want to go out today and let our guard down," said Tiger Woods, who beat Vijay Singh and finished his first winning record in team competition, at 3-2.

Leading 14-6 going into the 12 singles matches, Davis Love III clinched the cup with a 4-and-3 victory over Ernie Els, who became the first player in the Presidents Cup to lose all five matches.

That gave the Americans enough points to turn the rest of a gorgeous afternoon along the shores of Lake Manassas into a tribute to Venturi, who won the 1964 U.S. Open up the road at Congressional.

Venturi, a CBS Sports analyst the past 32 years, hugged Love as he walked off the green.

"This may be the one of the happiest days of my life," Venturi said. "I'm so proud of my team. I couldn't think of 12 finer people."

He couldn't have gotten any better play, from the time they took a 5-0 in the opening session and never let up.

"It's nice to be one of the 12 guys who got it for Kenny," Love said after his 4-and-3 victory. "This is his last great thing in golf. We didn't want to send him out on a sour note."

But they wanted more than the cup.

Coming off a 20 1/2-11 1/2 loss in the last Presidents Cup, the worst beating ever suffered by an American team, they wanted to fully repay the favor.

"Keep it up, you're point 21," Paul Azinger said to Tom Lehman, who struggled to stay in his match with Steve Elkington. Lehman didn't get it done, but a pair of rookies bringing up the rear - Kirk Triplett and Begay - managed to come through.

For Woods, it also was personal.

After a rare miss on a putt in his best-ball loss to Singh on Saturday, he noticed Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, wearing a cap with "Tiger Who?" stitched on the back.

Few putts were conceded in a match between the players who won all the majors this year - Singh the Masters, Woods the other three. On the fourth hole, Woods already had a bogey but refused to give Singh a 10-foot (3-meter) birdie putt - or the 18-inch (50-cm) par putt that followed.

Woods finally closed him out with a 15-foot (5-meter) birdie putt on the 17th for a 2-and-1 victory.

"I wanted him, and I know he wanted me," Woods said.

That was the only sign of controversy in this Presidents Cup, a kinder, gentler affair. Not a heckle was heard the entire week, and Love even mocked the infamous American charge across the 17th green at the Ryder Cup last year.

After Stewart Cink closed out Greg Norman on the 17th, Love walked over to congratulate him and stopped on the fringe as if he were about to go over a cliff.

Instead, it was the International team that must have felt like jumping.

Trying to prove it could win on American soil, it suffered an equally embarrassing week on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, where it is now 0-for-3.

"We've had this taste of victory not so long ago," International captain Peter Thomson said. "I bow to the superiority of the U.S. team. It is a very, very powerful team."

Els finished 0-5, a blow to the No. 2 player in the world ranking. Stuart Appleby also failed to win a match, going 0-3. Robert Allenby won his first, beating Azinger in the opening singles match, but that wasn't nearly enough for the International team.

David Duval, who had to watch Nick Price celebrate the International victory in 1998 in only the second singles match, this time beat Price with a birdie on the 17th. Loren Roberts, the 45-year-old captain's pick, polished off Appleby, 3 and 2.

That set the stage for Love, who was 4-0 this week and has not lost in his last eight matches in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.

Carlos Franco gave the International team the loudest cheer of the day, by making a double eagle from the fairway on the par-5 12th in his 6-and-5 victory over Hal Sutton. Mike Weir won the battle of the lefties, trouncing Phil Mickelson, 4 and 3.

Mickelson was the only player who failed to make a birdie Sunday.

But it wasn't nearly enough. The International team needed nothing short of a miracle, a tall order on a course where it has never won.

Cink and Triplett, the most unheralded rookies on the U.S. team, never lost all week. Triplett halved his match with Michael Campbell, the only match out of 32 that ended in a tie. Cink joined Love with a 4-0 record, while Triplett was 3-0-1.

The Americans took possession of both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup for the first time since 1994, when this tournament began between the United States and international players born outside Europe.

Their worldwide dominance has never been so evident.

A year ago, they came together on the final day of the Ryder Cup by winning 8 1/2 points from the 12 singles matches to pull off the greatest comeback in history. They never missed a beat in the Presidents Cup, and now are 30-14 dating to that Sunday outside Boston.