Tiger Woods and David Duval displayed the quality of golf associated with odds-on favourites when they combined superbly to shoot a 12 under par round of 60 in the four ball better ball format to sweep three strokes clear of the field going into the fourth round of the EMC2 World Cup in Buenos Aires.
The World’s Numbers One and Four dovetailed to perfection, emerging from two shots behind at halfway to a healthy lead over host nation Argentina and the other 36-hole leaders, New Zealand.
While Argentina and the Kiwis both fired rounds of 65 – no mean feat in the blustery, warm wind at Buenos Aires Golf Club – the Americans simply sizzled in the heat and their 60 was the best of the day by two strokes.
The holders lead with a 30 under par aggregate of 186 with Argentina and New Zealand on 189 and Canada, who carved out a 62 to climb the leaderboard, fourth on 195.
However it appears that, going into the final day foursomes, the destination of the title will be between the top three countries and Woods admitted that he and Duval had complemented each other “like a husband and wife”.
He said: “It was a pretty good day. We hit the ball well and I made a couple of putts. When one person was in trouble the other bailed him out. We did that all day long. Right now David and I are both playing well, enjoying each other’s company and that makes things a lot easier out there.”
The USA finished in a blaze of glory as Woods eagled the 14th and the double-act rattled off three straight birdies at the close to put daylight between themselves and their main rivals.
Greg Turner and Frank Nobilo sustained their charge with a good performance, but just could not match the United States’ blistering finish. Turner commented: “It was a much tougher day. The wind was stronger but the important thing is that we’re still in there with a chance.”
Argentina took time to make things happen, covering the first six holes in one under par compared to six under on Thursday. However Cabrera finally had the crowds roaring when he came close to making an albatross at the 17th. The ball ran across the hole but the junior partner of the Argentine side holed his eagle effort.
However Eduardo Romero is still optimistic about his nation’s chance of keeping the trophy in Argentina. He pointed out: “We know the United States is ahead of us, which is tough. We are going out there tomorrow for the trophy. Our main concern tomorrow is to beat the United States.”
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, champions three years ago at Kiawah Island, are the best placed European side after a second successive round of 66 for a 20 under par total of 196.
Harrington said: “It was a tough day. We haven’t holed a putt for three days and this time we just didn’t dove-tail at all. We are not holing enough putts. Look at what the United States have managed by holing putts.”
McGinley joined in: “Neither of us has done what we’re capable of. Both days in the four ball better ball format we’ve been level par after five holes and that hurts.”
Sweden’s Pierre Fulke and Mathias Gronberg clicked well with a nine under par 63 which propelled them into a share of sixth place on 197 alongside Germany’s Alex Cejka and Thomas Gogele and Peter O’Malley and Lucas Parsons of Australia.
Scotland’s Paul Lawrie and Gary Orr shot a 65 for finish on 198, one better than the Welsh side of Ian Woosnam and Phillip Price, who compiled a 67.