The Presidents Cup: Saturday Roundup- US 9.5- 8.5 INT


After a weather delayed start in South Korea, Team USA survived a spirited Team International performance to take a one point advantage into Sunday’s final round single matches in the Presidents Cup.

As dawn broke across the Jack Nicklaus course in Songdo, heavy rain and lightning storms halted play for an hour. Play got underway at 08:05am local time with four foursome matches and Team USA leading 5.5 to 4.5. After back-to-back wins for South African duo Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen over the first two days, Captain Nick Price kept his faith with them and put them out first to play against Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler. It was a decision that was justified as the pair representing Team International never went behind in the match and were only level on two holes. Early birdies at the 1st and 3rd built the foundation and from there it was just a case of not making many mistakes. But with bogeys at both of the front-nine par-3’s, the Americans were suddenly back to all square and had chance to build on the momentum. That was until Grace and Oosthizen birdied four of the next eight holes to take the game away from Reed and Fowler and pick up the first point of the day with a 3&2 victory after the 16th hole.

Image courtesy of Harrow How (Getty Imags)

Image courtesy of Harrow How (Getty Images)

Bubba Watson and JB Holmes were paired together again and came up against Australian duo Adam Scott and Marc Leishman. The big hitting American’s found themselves 2up after twelve holes but a couple of late birdies from the Internationals rewarded them with a well deserved half point.

The third match of the morning was Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar up against Hideki Matsuyama and home favourite Sangmoon Bae. Nick Price’s decision to leave Bae out of the first round of matches was questioned, but a win on friday for him and Danny Lee made it a no brainer to include the South Korean on Saturday. With a birdie at the 1st hole Team International remained 1up through the first five holes until a mistake meant the US Team were given the 6th hole to draw level. Haas and Kuchar then remained in charge until the 18th hole when they teed off at the last hole 1up. However, a birdie from The International Team after a brilliant second shot from Matsuyama helped them to get a much-needed birdie and another warranted half point.

The final game of the morning was a matchup that everyone had been waiting for. Spieth and Johnson up against Charl Schwartzel and Jason Day. Spieth and Johnson were comfortably beaten 4&3 on Friday by Oosthuizen and Grace so would have wanted to get off to a fast start, which they did with a birdie at the 1st hole. From there though, Day and Schwartzel turned the screw and from the 4th hole they remained up in the match for 13 holes in a row until they reached the 17th hole 1up on the American pair. A brilliant tee shot from Johnson left Spieth with a 5-footer for birdie which he causally rolled in to level the match heading down the final hole. Spieth found the left rough with his tee shot, and Day followed suit by tugging his tee shot left into the fairway bunker. With the Americans layed up 100 yards back in two, Schwartzel went for the ambitious shot out of the bunker and agonisingly hit the lip and had the ball roll back to his feet. From there Team International could only make a bogey. Spieth made a par and from being 1 down with two to play, the Americans came out on top. Here are the morning results and overall score heading into the afternoon fourball session:

Patrick Reed                                               Louis Oosthuizen
         &                           3&2   WIN                       &
Rickie Fowler                                                Branden Grace
Bubba Watson                                                Adam Scott
         &                            HALVED                        &
JB Holmes                                                     Marc Leishman
Bill Haas                                                           Sangmoon Bae
        &                             HALVED                          &
Matt Kuchar                                                   Hideki Matsuyama
Dustin Johnson                                                  Jason Day
         &                           WIN  1UP                              &
Jordan Spieth                                                  Charl Schwartzel

TEAM USA       7.5     –     6.5       TEAM INTERNATIONAL 

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After the earlier weather delay, it was a race against time to finish the second session of matches before sunset. Grace and Oosthuizen opened up again for Team International and with a 3-0-0 record together so far it’s hard to see any other pairing teeing off first. They came up against JB Holmes and Bubba Watson and made a devastating start with three birdies in four holes from Branden Grace giving them a 3up advantage early on. Back-to-back birdies from Watson and Holmes cut the deficit to one. A birdie at the 10th for Oosthuizen doubled their advantage but birdies at 12 and 13 from Watson meant the match was all square with five holes remaining. The score remained the same until the 16th hole when Grace knocked in a 10-footer for birdie to regain the advantage, and from their Team International held out for a 1up win on the final hole. The win for Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace meant they went 4-0-0 for the event, the only other team to go 4-0-0 was Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods back in 2009. They have contributed almost half of Team Internationals points so far and will no doubt both be looking to have a 100% record after Sunday’s single matches.

Image courtesy of Harry How (Getty Images)

Image courtesy of David Cannon (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson were paired together again and brought back into the lineup after having the morning off. They beat Adam Scott and Anirban Lahiri 3&2 without ever being behind during the match. Out of the 16 holes played the four players only made 10 birdies between them and once again for Adam Scott is was a case of his putter letting him down.

After a very good save at the 18th hole during the morning session, Nick Price kept Matsuyama and Bae together for the afternoon session. it was a decision that certainly turned out to be a good one with the International pair crushing American due Jimmy Walker and Chris Kirk 6&5 and completed the victory within three hours.

Spieth and Day were once again centre of attention in the afternoon session and in the final match out. They played alongside Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel. Schwartzel made a birdie at the first and gave Team International a 1up lead for the first seven holes. However, three birdies in a row for two-time Major winner Jordan Spieth turned the match on its head and the US Team of Spieth and Reed added a valuable point with a 3&2 victory. Below are the afternoon results and scores:

JB Holmes                                                     Louis Oosthuizen
         &                           1UP   WIN                        &
Bubbba Watson                                              Branden Grace
Phil Mickelson                                                Adam Scott
         &                            WIN  3&2                        &
Zach Johnson                                                  Anirban Lahiri
Jimmy Walker                                                 Sangmoon Bae
        &                             6&5  WIN                            &
Chris Kirk                                                        Hideki Matsuyama
Patrick Reed                                                        Jason Day
         &                           WIN  3&2                            &
Jordan Spieth                                                  Charl Schwartzel

 

TEAM USA       9.5     –     8.5       TEAM INTERNATIONAL 

 

Sunday mornings single matches get underway at 9:15am local time. It’s sure to be a scintillating final day in South Korea. Can Team International win The Presidents Cup for the first time since 1998? Or will Team US prove a little bit to strong. All will be answered after the final putt drops.