SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The United States took a 3½-2½ lead over the International team in the Presidents Cup, a good start Thursday that was tempered only in the final match when Justin Leonard missed a 3-foot putt that led to a tie.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were dominant from the start, playing bogey-free Thursday in the difficult alternate-shot format for a 6-and-4 victory over Geoff Ogilvy and 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa. Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim came to life late, closing with four straight birdies for a 3-and-2 victory over Mike Weir and Tim Clark.

The momentum switched to American red on the scoreboard late on the cloudy, cool afternoon at Harding Park. The final push figured to come from Leonard and Jim Furyk, who surged ahead of Retief Goosen and Y.E. Yang, 2-up with two holes to play.

Goosen holed a birdie putt on the 17th to send the match to the par-5 18th, and the South African missed the green to the right. Leonard hit a splendid fairway metal to the middle of the green, setting up what appeared to be a two-putt birdie.

Furyk lagged to 3 feet, the International team got up-and-down for birdie, and Goosen looked over at Furyk as if wondering why Leonard even needed to putt. Eventually, the South African realized the putt meant something.

Kenny Perry and Zach Johnson earned a point for the Americans, beating Angel Cabrera and Camilo Villegas 2-up. In the International team’s victories, Ernie Els and Adam Scott beat Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair 2 and 1, and Vijay Singh and Robert Allenby edged Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink 1-up.

On Friday, the teams will play six better-ball matches.


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