Golf-Weir delivers crowds but no victory

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MONTREAL, Sep 28 (Reuters) Mike Weir delivered the support the International team wanted from the Canadian crowd but could not supply a victory as the United States stormed to a 5 { to { lead after the opening Presidents Cup foursomes.

One of Gary Players' captain picks, Weir was anxious to prove he could contribute more than enthusiastic galleries to the cause but had to settle for a half when Woody Austin rolled in a 12-foot putt on the 18th to earn him and Phil Mickelson the tie, yesterday.

The half from Weir and Vijay Singh was the only bright spot on a dark opening day for the Internationals and came as result of surprising charity from US captain Jack Nicklaus, who ordered Mickelson and Austin to concede a 3 { putt to the Fijian on the final hole.

''It doesn't surprise me with Jack or Gary,'' Weir told reporters. ''They do the right thing and they have for their whole careers.

''I would like to think if it was role reversal we would have done the same thing.'' In a calculated move, Player sent the hugely popular Canadian left-hander out early in a bid to generate excitement and help the Internationals seize the momentum.

The plan seemed to backfire when Mickelson and Austin went two up after three holes.

Weir had been given a hero's send-off at the first but it took several holes for the 2003 Masters champion and Singh to give them something to celebrate with an inspired comeback, erasing the deficit and taking a three-up lead after 11.

But despite the raucous support Weir and Singh could not hold on for victory, Mickelson draining a 20-foot birdie on 17 and Austin sinking a clutch par putt at the last to complete their rally.

''It was a great match, in the four Cups I've played in probably the toughest match, back and forth,'' said Weir. ''They got ahead and then we stormed back and then they stormed back, it was just seesaw.

''There were a number of quality shots out there, a number of quality putts holed especially coming down the last three holes, Woody made two great ones and Phil made a great one on 17.

''We had them right there and that's why he's number two in the world. He makes those putts.'' REUTERS BJR PM1005

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