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Irish 'soul brothers' lose rhythm

IRELAND'S 'soul brothers', Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, once again wound up singing the World Cup blues at Mission Hills yesterday.

For the second time in successive World Cups, McIlroy and McDowell powered into the final round at the head of the field -- and then blew their chance of claiming a third victory for Ireland at this fabled championship.

The Ulster duo, who finished one tantalising stroke behind Edoardo and Francesco Molinari in 2009, this time sputtered home in a tie for fourth as Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland ended a record 11-year World Cup drought for the USA.

McIlroy and McDowell lost their rhythm and were starved of momentum during yesterday's level-par 72 on the Blackstone Course as Kuchar and Woodland purred to a two-stroke victory over Germany and England with an error-free 67 in the closing foursomes.

Fittingly, they clinched America's 24th win at the World Cup in 24-under-par, accepting cheques for US$1.2m each along with the golden jackets the winners must don.

As he walked from prize-giving to the media conference, a jubilant Kuchar could be forgiven for posing in this exceedingly garish jacket and loudly asking his Chinese hosts: "Any of you guys know Jackie Chan?"

McIlroy and McDowell's two-stroke overnight lead vanished in a flash as the Irish stumbled to a three-putt bogey on the first hole, where McIlroy missed a short putt for par.

"We just didn't have it out there today," McDowell admitted. "We had no mojo. We didn't make anything. We probably had two of the best breaks we had all year on two par-fives and we made six on both of them.

"That really was the story of the day -- we made nothing and couldn't get it going.

"We knew what we had to do," he went on. "Our target was to shoot four-under and that's exactly what we needed, but couldn't get it done.

Ireland's challenge expired on 15 when McDowell's tee shot landed under the lip of a bunker, leading to an inevitable bogey four.

"Foursomes is a difficult format," said McIlroy. "If you lose your rhythm slightly, it's very hard to get it back. You can go a few holes without hitting an iron shot or a few holes without hitting a putt. That basically was the story of our day, we just didn't get anything going."