Tue, Sep 27, 2005 - Page 19 News List

DiMarco leads US to win

AP , GAINESVILLE, VIRGINIA

Right when it looked like the Presidents Cup might end in another tie, Chris DiMarco holed a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole to outlast Stuart Appleby for a 1-up victory and give the Americans an 18-15 victory on Sunday.

"Every piece of my body was shaking," DiMarco said. "My caddie says before I hit the putt, `This is the moment you've waited for your whole life, so go ahead and do it.' And you know, I did."

DiMarco knew it was good as the ball was still a few feet from the hole. He charged toward the cup, and then into the arms of captain Jack Nicklaus, happy to send the greatest champion in golf into retirement as a winner over the International team.

"All I thought about was to get him a win," DiMarco said.

Nicklaus already said farewell to the majors this year at an emotional British Open. He doubts he'll be a Presidents Cup captain again, wanting someone else to get a chance, so this likely was his last time in the spotlight, and his last chance to get a victory in this event.

"It feels a lot better to have a win, there's no question about that," said Nicklaus, whose team had lost badly in Australia in 1998, and tied in South Africa two years ago. "As far as being something special, I may never captain another team, I may never play another round of golf, and if I end my career this way, it's a pretty good way to end it."

Under new rules this year, every match had to go extra holes until one team had enough points to claim the cup.

Someone apparently forgot to tell Phil Mickelson.

With the Americans already at 17 points, Mickelson thought he clinched the Presidents Cup when he stuffed a wedge into 4 feet and made the birdie on No. 18 to square his match with Angel Cabrera. Lefty pounded his fist, removed his cap to shake hands and was about to celebrate when European tour rules official Andy McFee broke the news.

The look on his face was utter shock, and he headed to the first tee at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

Mickelson never had to finish the extra hole. A massive roar behind him told him all he needed to know.

"For Chris to win it was so fitting this week," Mickelson said. "It's a memory that we'll have a lifetime, and we'll never forget."

DiMarco was the star of this American team, not only by going 4-1-0, but for emerging from a titanic duel with Appleby over the back nine. Both exchanged clutch putts to halve three straight holes and keep the match square. Both gave away a hole with bogey, DiMarco on the 16th, Appleby on the 17th.

DiMarco put himself in trouble on 18 with a tee shot into the right rough, forcing him to play it with his feet in the bunker. But the shot came out clean and settled 15 feet from the cup.

Appleby missed his birdie putt, and DiMarco settled in for a putt he won't soon forget.

The crowd chanted "U-S-A!" after it was over, then turned their praise to DiMarco and yelled, "M-V-P!"

The only other match that reached the 18th hole produced the loudest cheer, from a usual source.

Fred Couples already has made his own highlight reel from the Presidents Cups, having won the cup in 1996 with a 35-foot birdie putt to beat Vijay Singh for a one-point victory.

Couples got Singh again under different circumstances. He is an aging star at 45, while Singh is the No. 2 player in the world who has won more on tour than anyone in the last three years.

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