US on brink of Cup triumph after Mickelson win

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MONTREAL, Sep 30 (Reuters) Phil Mickelson hammered Vijay Singh 5&4 today's last-day singles to leave the United States needing just two more points to clinch the Presidents Cup for a fifth time.

Mickelson shrugged off a bogey at the par-four first to outplay Fijian Singh in bright sunshine at Royal Montreal Golf Club, birdies at the 10th and 12th putting him five up.

The American left-hander earned his team's first point of the day after Singh missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th green to keep the match alive.

''It was important for us as a team to get off to a good start because we didn't want to lose momentum,'' Mickelson told reporters.

''I'm fortunate that I got off to enough of a lead so we could get this wrapped up early.'' Holders the US were up in four of the remaining 11 matches with the Internationals leading in only two.

In the top contest, American Scott Verplank led South African Rory Sabbatini one up with two holes to play while David Toms was one up on South African Trevor Immelman after 11 holes.

Stewart Cink appeared to have another point in the bag for the US after making a sizzling five-birdie start and was three up on Australian left-hander Nick O'Hern after 10 holes.

In the penultimate match, American Charles Howell II was one up on Australian Stuart Appleby after eight holes.

The US are poised to win their first team title on foreign soil since clinching the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in central England.

After completing a rare sweep of Saturday morning's foursomes, they ended the third day at Royal Montreal leading the Internationals by 14-1/2 points to 7-1/2.

Reuters VP0254

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