US takes control at Presidents Cup
AP Golf Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Two perfect teams and a point for Tiger Woods.
That was all the Americans needed Saturday in the rain at Royal Melbourne to build a 11-6 lead in the Presidents Cup and put the International team in serious danger of falling too far behind to recapture the cup on home soil.
The Americans went 4-1 in the foursomes session, and tried to expand its lead in the afternoon fourballs. They were up in three matches early, though the International team was trying to rally. No team has ever trailed going into the 12 singles matches and won the Presidents Cup.
Woods played again with Dustin Johnson, and while it wasn’t pretty, it was finally a point in their foursomes match.
They trailed early in the match until winning consecutive holes with pars as Adam Scott and K.J. Choi struggled. Woods and Johnson went 1 up on the 13th when the International team conceded before reaching the green, and the Americans went 2 up on the next hole after Scott and Choi made another bogey.
Woods closed out the match with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th.
“It was a day of patience,” Woods said. “The weather was kind of iffy, the greens are another different speed. They’ve got some pretty good, little tricky pins. I felt Dustin and I were playing well. We just kept putting on the heat, and eventually one would fall.”
In afternoon fourballs, Woods missed six putts inside 15 feet – one of them for eagle – as he and Johnson were all square against the South Korean duo of Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim.
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk won four out of five holes on the back nine, and Mickelson polished off Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day by holing a 50-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. Mickelson and Furyk won all three matches they played together.
“We turned it around,” Mickelson said. “We fought hard and we ended up having a nice run on the back nine.”
U.S. captain Fred Couples sat David Toms and Phil Mickelson in the afternoon session. Couples said Mickelson offered to sit if needed, and Couples said it would keep the four-time major champion fresh for the Sunday singles.
That ended a streak of 32 consecutive matches played at the Presidents Cup for Mickelson.
Furyk still had a chance to go 4-0. He and Nick Watney were 1 up at the turn in fourballs over Scott and Ernie Els.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, in the leadoff match all week, also went to 3-0 by beating Melbourne’s own Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Allenby. The Americans were headed for defeat in the afternoon, however, 4 down with five holes to play.
The International team picked up its only point in the morning behind Els and Ryo Ishikawa. They went 1 up on the 16th when Bill Haas missed a par putt on the 16th. Matt Kuchar hit his approach on the 17th within a foot for a conceded birdie, but Ishikawa halved the hole with an 18-foot birdie putt as Els raised his hands in delight and wrapped his arms around the 19-year-old from Japan.
Ishikawa holed a 6-foot par putt on the last to secure the 1-up win.
In the other match, Toms and Hunter Mahan again proved to be the most formidable alternate-shot tandem. They beat Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel, 5 and 4. In the two foursomes matches they played, Toms and Mahan played only 27 holes and were behind on only one of those holes.
The International team has won only one time in the Presidents Cup since it began in 1994 – at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
“They have got to make a move this afternoon,” International captain Greg Norman said about his team.
With the afternoon matches on the back nine, it was a draw – the Internationals were up in two matches (4 up and 1 up), the Americans were 1 up in two matches, and the Woods-Johnson match was tied.