MELBOURNE – The United States’ comeback attempt at the President Cup stalled late in the Saturday foursome matches, and the International team holds a 10-8 lead heading into the final day.
After the Internationals won 2.5 of the available four points in four-ball matches early Saturday (Australia time) at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the U.S. team was ahead on all four foursome matches through the 14th hole later Saturday.
The Americans closed out two of the wins. However, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Australia’s Marc Leishman won each of the last three holes to halve their match with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and South Korea’s Byeong Hun An came back from 2 down through 13 holes to halve with Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.
An could have won his match, but he missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole after Niemann made a spectacular, 131-yard approach shot from the sand and weeds.
Although U.S. playing captain Tiger Woods posted a 2-0 record over the first two days of the competition, he sat himself out for both sessions on Saturday.
“You have to do what’s best for the team, and I’m getting ready for the singles tomorrow,” said Woods, who added that he was not injured.
In the other foursome action, Gary Woodland and Dustin Johnson posted a 2-and-1 victory over Australia’s Adam Scott and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, and Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele won by the same score over Australia’s Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
The Presidents Cup will conclude with 12 singles matches Sunday.
In the first session Saturday, the International team built on its lead, but Tony Finau gave the United States team a glimmer of hope with a late half-point.
The tightest of the four Saturday four-ball matches saw Finau and Kuchar rally to halve their match with An and Scott.
Finau kept the Americans alive in the match by rolling in a birdie putt on top of An’s birdie putt at the par-4 17th. Then on the par-4 18th hole, after An made a bogey and Scott missed a short birdie putt, sank a 6-foot birdie putt to halve the match.
The Americans were ahead by a hole on the front nine thanks to Finau’s birdie on the par-3 fifth hole. The Internationals leveled the count behind a Scott birdie at the par-4 8th hole. Another Finau birdie on a par-3 hole, this one at No. 14, leveled the match before An’s birdie on the par-5 15th hole put the Internationals on top again.
The biggest blowout of the early session was registered by Taiwan’s C.T. Pan and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who routed Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed 5 and 3. Ancer and Im also recorded a comfortable victory, beating Cantlay and Schauffele 3 and 2.
The U.S. team also notched a 3-and-2 victory as Fowler and Thomas rolled past China’s Haotong Li and Leishman.
The International team went 1-10-1 in 12 previous editions of the President Cup, but its lone win came at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
–Field Level Media