Entering the third session, the USA led the Internationals 7-5, which might have surprised quite a few people (including myself because of the emphasis on the Australian-loaded team being familiar with Royal Melbourne). Well, it might not have been pretty, but the Americans have shown their grit, dominating in the Saturday morning foursomes and increasing their advantage to 11-6. The Internationals lost all but one match — the young Ryo Ishikawa and the elder Ernie Els finally won their first point, beating Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think it’s practically over. I mean, the crowd sure thinks so. The Internationals haven’t been able to rally the Australian fans, which are largely cheering for their country’s best: Adam Scott, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Allenby. So much for home course advantage!
Here are the final results from the foursomes:
I think International captain Greg Norman has been his own worst enemy by overthinking strategy and pairings. Meanwhile, the flighty yet cool Fred Couples has gone with his instincts and they’ve proved to be quite effective. Great call to put Bubba Watson in the first match in every session to keep him from spazzing and becoming impatient.
Simpson-Watson are the MVPs of the matches so far, with an undefeated 3-0 record. God’s will!
So, Conor is looking like a genius. He’s the only person I know who wasn’t so sure the Internationals were the favorites. He pointed out weaknesses amongst the team and said it’d be much closer than we expect. Well, it’s not just closer, the Americans are kicking booty!
Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson beat Adam Scott and K.J. Choi. Neither duo was very impressive, but Tiger finally made a putt to take the match. Score: Stevie 2, Tiger 1.
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk remain undefeated, winning their third point of the week in a 2&1 victory over Jason Day (who is struggling badly) and Aaron Baddeley. Mickelson drained a 50-footer like it was no big deal to close out the match. He had requested to sit out the afternoon fourball to rest for Sunday’s singles.
The resilient duo of Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa finally paid off. Ryo, who I think is the best putter of both teams, drained clutch putts, including a 15-footer to win their first point. I was actually really happy for them, especially how cute it was when Ernie hugged Ryo and patted him on the back like a proud father. Love it. No wonder Ernie and Ryo wanted to stay paired together despite their previously winless record. It appears Ernie has taken on the role of a mentor to Ryo — love both of them, especially their height discrepancy when they stand next to each other.
Here’s the lineup for the fourball matches Saturday afternoon:
MATCH 1: Webb Simpson-Bubba Watson (U.S.) vs. Retief Goosen-Charl Schwartzel (Internationals)
MATCH 2: Tiger Woods-Dustin Johnson (U.S.) vs. K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang (Internationals)
MATCH 3: Steve Stricker-Matt Kuchar (U.S.) vs. Geoff Ogilvy-K.J. Choi (Internationals)
MATCH 4: Hunter Mahan-Bill Haas (U.S.) vs. Aaron Baddeley-Jason Day (International)
MATCH 5: Jim Furyk-Nick Watney (U.S.) vs. Adam-Scott-Ernie Els (Internationals)
*Update: I asked Steve Elkington, member of the Internationals in the ’98 Prez Cup (3-0-2 record), to share some deep thoughts on the Americans thumping the Internationals: “It seems as though our hot summer weather has not shown up and negated our advantage.” Elk also asks, “Who on the US team has a head like a smashed crab?….”