DiMarco delivers fine riposte to Ballesteros

After fist-pumpingly ramming home the 25-footer that clinched the Presidents Cup for the United States in Washington DC on Sunday night, Chris DiMarco was even keener to ram the words of those critics such as Ballesteros straight back down their sceptical throats.

"People were getting down on us, saying we don't care. But we're the only ones that knew how much we cared. We cared. We cared bad," said DiMarco, all but naming the Spaniard who, at the Seve Trophy in Tees Valley on Saturday, took a moment off declaring how unimpressed he was by the modern golfers to label the Presidents Cup "a friendly" and the reason why America cannot handle the Ryder Cup "because they don't like the pressure".

"I can promise you that's not true," said DiMarco after beating Stuart Appleby in the singles to inch out Gary Player's International side. "There was a lot of pressure here, I can assure you. That last putt I thought I might whiff, I was that nervous. My caddie told me, 'This is the moment you've been waiting for your whole life, so go ahead and do it'. So I did. We needed this cup. We really did."

Indeed, it was mighty difficult to back up Ballesteros's claims that this "looks like a match between a bunch of friends" after witnessing not only the fierce competition that included Tiger Woods being beaten 2 and 1 by Retief Goosen as the Internationals launched a spirited comeback, but also the tumultuous scenes when Jack Nicklaus lifted America's first international match trophy since 2000.

In fact, Nicklaus could not disagree with his former rival more, adamant that this intense "friendly" is vital to the United States' burgeoning ability to withstand the heat in the rarefied atmosphere of team matchplay. The 18-time major winner suspects he presided over the death of American nerve at the infamous Ryder Cup defeat to Europe on home soil in Ohio in 1987, but believes he has just been at its rebirth in Virginia.

"The 18th in '87 cost us the match," he said. "The 18th here won us the match. You've got to be able to play the last hole and finish. Believe in yourself. Believe you can do it again. That's why I'm so happy. This victory elevated every one of these guys so the next time out in the Ryder Cup they will believe in what they can do."

l George Archer, the 1969 Masters champion, died on Sunday after a year-long battle with cancer. The 6ft 5in San Franciscan was 65.

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