Player pays tribute to US foursomes display

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MONTREAL, Sep 28 (Reuters) Internationals captain Gary Player paid tribute to the sparkling foursomes display by the United States after the Presidents Cup holders won five of the six opening matches.

The Americans ended a damp, overcast day at Royal Montreal Golf Club leading their opponents by 5-{ points to a half yesterday.

''I'd like to congratulate Jack and his team on playing so well,'' Player told reporters, referring to US captain Jack Nicklaus. ''The matches were very, very close and many of them could have gone either way.

''But there are no ifs and buts and we are a long way behind after the first day. We couldn't have had a better day to play golf today. No wind, it was cool and the greens were holding.'' The Internationals, whose only success in six previous Presidents Cups came at Royal Melbourne in 1998, led in four of the six matches before the US tightened their hold.

In the day's most gripping encounter, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir halved with Americans Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin after going two down early on and leading by three after 11 holes.

''To have so many matches go to the last hole drags it out and makes it more frustrating,'' said Australian Ian Baker-Finch, Player's assistant captain.

''We were quite happy with the pairings coming into the day and were happy and quietly confident that we could perhaps even be in front coming to the end of the day.

''So you start second guessing a little and all those sorts of things that come with being a part of the team sport.'' REUTERS BJR PM1000

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