United States keep slim lead in Presidents Cup over Internationals
Jordan Spieth made seven-foot putts on the final two holes to complete the biggest comeback all week and allow the Americans to escape with a split of the foursomes matches on Saturday in the Presidents Cup.
The Americans had a 7.5-6.5 point lead going into the four afternoon fourball matches.
The lead could easily have belonged to either team during a final hour at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea that featured clutch putts and big blunders.
The only match that lacked any drama was Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, the International juggernaut this week. The South Africans stayed undefeated in a 3-and-2 victory over Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed.
Spieth and Dustin Johnson were three\ down at the turn to Australian Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel and still two holes behind when Schwartzel came up short and into a creek with a wedge from the 14th fairway. It was one of two big mistakes by the South African.
Johnson hit his tee shot to seven feet on the par-three 17th, and Spieth poured in the putt to square the match. Both teams missed the fairway, and Schwartzel tried to reach the green from a bunker. He missed it so badly that the ball barely left the ground, smacked into the base of the lip and stayed in the bunker. The International team made bogey.
Spieth, however, played overly cautious with a wedge that left Johnson a 30-foot putt that was extremely fast at the hole, and he ran it seven feet by. Spieth had to make that par putt for the win, and one of golf’s best putters left little doubt.
“We could have made it a little easier from 90 yards out. I could have gotten us below the hole,” Spieth said. “But man, what a comeback we had there. That was a great fight. And it was a huge point in The Presidents Cup.”
The Americans lost chances to win the other two matches.
Bubba Watson and JB Holmes looked sure winners when Watson hit the green on the par-five 18th with his second shot, while the Internationals had to lay up and Australian Marc Leishman’s third shot with a wedge was 30 feet short.
Holmes ran the long eagle putt about five feet by the hole, and fellow Australian Adam Scott was furious when his birdie putt – that seemed to be the best chance for a halve – ran about eight feet by the hole. Leishman made his putt for par, and Watson missed the five-foot birdie putt for the win.
The Americans also had control of the other match, when Bae Sang-moon’s touch chip failed to reach the green, allowing Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar to go one up heading to the 18th.
Hideki Matsuyama hit his second shot to about 25 feet for a certain birdie. Haas went over the green with his second, and Kuchar’s chip failed to reach the green. The International team held on for a half-point.
For the fourballs session, US captain Jay Haas kept Watson and Holmes together for a fourth straight match, while Johnson sat out and Spieth was with Reed, his Ryder Cup partner.
Scott had his fourth partner in four matches, this time going with Anirban Lahiri.