As an American, I have no shame to say that I’ve rooted for the International Team in just about every Presidents Cup since I started covering golf. WTF, that’s treasonous, you say? Well, the reason why is simple. With few exceptions, like two years ago in South Korea, the Americans have dominated the Internationals, and by the time the weekend rolls around, it’s a complete snooze-fest.
In 12 editions of this event, the Americans have won 10 and the Internationals have won once and tied another. I mean, if you want to talk about about exhibitions in golf — and there are quite a few — the Presidents Cup is the first to come to mind. It’s truly a shame.
But I would like to see the Internationals win because, well, this exhibition could really use that to add more interest. Look, the crowds at Liberty National have been great. We all love match play, but following Friday’s action with the Americans taking 4.5 out of the possible 5 points in four-balls, the overall standing after two days is: U.S. Team 8, International Team 2.
With eight points on the line in Saturday (the only day with two sets of matches), the Americans only need 7.5 points to retain the Cup. Yep, that’s right — hypothetically, this could literally be over on Saturday (even though it feels like it already is). Wake me in a year when the Ryder Cup is in France. I kid, I kid, but it’s just a shame for the event. The match that really must have been a dagger in the heart for the Internationals was delivered in Match 9 — Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner vs. Jason Day/Marc Leishman. Mickelson and Kisner never led the entire match until Mickelson buried a 12-footer for birdie to win the match 1-up, and this is how they celebrated…
I commend Phil for his self-awareness. Apparently Phil came up with the idea to reenact this dance from the “Three Amigos” movie on Friday morning. “The ‘Three Amigos’ thing we messed around this morning with,” explained Mickelson in a presser Friday evening. “I thought we biffed it when we were doing it, but when I looked back and saw the replay, “I think we kind of nailed it actually. But I get that I can’t dance. I get that I can’t take selfies, but I can putt, and it was nice to roll that last one in.” Per the selfie reference, he’s talking about his attempt to snap a selfie with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, on the first tee Thursday. Phil just needs more practice!
A post shared by Tim Mickelson (@timmick29) on
Speaking of which, I AM SO PISSED I MISSED THIS:
Presidents 42, 43 and 44 @presidentscup first tee Thursday A post shared by Geoff Shackelford (@geoffshac) on
“It was a tough day for us,” said International Team captain Nick Price. “Again, another one. I think we saw the strength of the U.S. Team come out today, but in all fairness to my guys, I don’t think they played as well as they were capable of.
“It was just a tough day. You know, the guys are trying. That’s all I can say. They are trying their tails off. Just — they are just not making enough putts. Maybe not enough birdies.
“But you know, the one thing that I say, we’re only ten points through 30. There’s 20 points left. There’s a long way to go. And I know the U.S. Team knows that. And an 8-2 lead is a very strong lead for them to have, but like I said, we only had ten points out of 30, so there’s a lot of golf left.”
I don’t see the Americans letting down, but it would certainly make Sunday mean something if the Internationals could somehow sweep all eight points Saturday. But let’s be real, there’s a better chance of Trump *not* showing up on Sunday.
— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) September 29, 2017
That was like the highlight of my day!
Since the PGA Tour can make up rules as they go along, perhaps all the Captains could play instead of the players on the team in Saturday’s matches, or hell, Sunday if the Americans win 7.5 points tomorrow.
On Team USA, we’ve got Captain Steve Stricker and his assistants are Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. And for the Internationals, Captain Price’s assistants are Ernie Els, Tony Johnstone, Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Weir.
— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) September 29, 2017
I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els a la 2003 — the one time the teams tied. I know Tiger can’t take full swings and such, but I’d love to see him play a match with his wedge and a putter! A couple of veteran journos that covered the event in South Africa said that the whole thing was epic and ranked high in drama and intrigue.
Hey, this is a random, but kind of cool fact: Mickelson and Adam Scott are the two players on the 2017 team that were also members of the 2003 team. Meanwhile, with regard to the captains, Price, Weir, Els, Love, Woods and Furyk were part of those teams. I would love to see all those guys play against each other. That would such an awesome throwback!
I know it won’t happen, but a girl can wish!
Last word: The “VIP”/media ferry docked just seconds before the Player ferry, and man, it was weird and cool to see Tiger Woods in his white get-up with a backpack roaming the streets of Manhattan like a normal human being.
Tiger Woods: just another one of the guys… pic.twitter.com/A2grmqJg7a
— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) September 29, 2017
Here are summaries of Friday’s matches via the PGA Tour — and tomorrow morning’s match-ups (scroll to the bottom):
Match 6: Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (U.S.) halved with Hideki Matsuyama/Adam Hadwin (International)
Match 7: Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Louis Oosthuizen/Branden Grace (International), 3 and 2
Match 8: Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner (U.S.) def. Jason Day/Marc Leishman (International), 1 up
Match 9: Kevin Chappell/Charley Hoffman (U.S.) def. Charl Schwartzel/Anirban Lahiri (International), 6 and 5.
Match 10: Dustin Johnson/Brooks Koepka (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas (International), 3 and 2
Note: Presidents Cup rookies (10) are in bold
Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (U.S.) halved with Hideki Matsuyama/Adam Hadwin (International)
Captain Stricker sent out the victorious Day One pairing of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed against Captain Price’s selections of Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Canada’s Adam Hadwin, who made his Presidents Cup debut after sitting on the first day. The first match of the session proved to be a tight competition with the U.S. Team overcoming a 2-down deficit with four holes to play to halve the match.
Reed has not lost a Four-Ball match in his Presidents Cup career, playing both with Spieth.
Spieth and Reed are a preeminent pairing in international competition, and this is the third time they have been paired together at the Presidents Cup (2-0-1). They defeated Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim 5 and 4 in Day One Foursomes play.
Matsuyama’s record in Four-Ball competition is 1-1-2, and his overall record is now 3-5-3. Hadwin halved his first match in Presidents Cup play.
Spieth’s Presidents Cup record: 6-4-1
Spieth’s Four-Ball record: 2-2-1
Reed’s Presidents Cup record: 2-2-2
Reed’s Four-Ball record: 1-0-1
Matsuyama’s Presidents Cup record: 3-5-3
Matsuyama’s Four-Ball record: 1-1-2
Adam Hadwin’s Presidents Cup record: 0-0-1
Adam Hadwin’s Four-Ball record: 0-0-1
Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Louis Oosthuizen/Branden Grace (International), 3 and 2
The undefeated duo of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler won their second match in as many days, knocking off Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, the most successful pair in the history of the Presidents Cup, 3 and 2.
Fowler and Thomas won the third hole with a birdie by Fowler and never relinquished their lead. On the 14th hole, Thomas holed out from the greenside bunker and nearly holed out again on the 16th, also from a greenside bunker. The lone win for the International team came at the sixth hole, where Branden Grace made an eagle three at the par-5.
The South African duo collected their fifth consecutive victory in the Presidents Cup yesterday, knocking off first-timers Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka and securing the first full point for the International Team in the opening Foursomes. Grace and Oosthuizen compiled a perfect 4-0-0 record in 2015, making them the second pair to win four points in a single Presidents Cup (Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker, 2009). Here’s a look at their performance in 2015 together:
Day One Foursomes: defeated Matt Kuchar/Patrick Reed 2&1
Day Two Four-ball: defeated Dustin Johnson/Jordan Spieth 4&3
Day Three Foursomes: defeated Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler 3&2
Day Three Four-ball: defeated Bubba Watson/J.B. Holmes 1-up
Grace went on to become the fifth player to win five matches in a single Presidents Cup after going 0-4-0 in his debut in 2013; Oosthuizen halved his singles match in 2015 to finish undefeated.
Fowler’s Presidents Cup record: 3-3-0
Fowler’s Four-Ball record: 1-1-0
Justin Thomas’ Presidents Cup record: 2-0-0
Justin Thomas’ Four-Ball record: 2-0-0
Louis Oosthuizen’s Presidents Cup record: 6-4-2
Louis Oosthuizen’s Four-Ball record: 3-2-0
Branden Grace’s Presidents Cup record: 6-5-0
Branden Grace’s Four-Ball record: 2-3-0
Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner (U.S.) def. Jason Day/Marc Leishman (International), 1 up
In a rematch of the opening Foursomes match between Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner and Jason Day/Marc Leishman, the U.S. duo rallied, never leading until Mickelson birdied the par-3 18th to win the match with a 12 foot, 4 inch putt.
Mickelson is the only player to have played in all 12 Presidents Cup competitions, and with his win today, passed Vijay Singh for the most wins in Four-Ball matches with 10 career wins. It also moves him into a tie with Tiger Woods (24-15-1) for the most wins ever in Presidents Cup history with 24.
Kevin Kisner is Mickelson’s 16th different partner in his record 53 matches played (most total matches played):
Woody Austin 1-0-2
Keegan Bradley 2-1-1
Chris DiMarco 3-1-1
David Duval 0-3-1
Fred Funk 0-1-0
Jim Furyk 3-0-0
Zach Johnson 2-0-1
Anthony Kim 1-0-0
Kevin Kisner 1-0-1
Tom Lehman 4-1-0
Justin Leonard 1-0-0
Davis Love III 1-0-0
Hunter Mahan 0-1-0
Sean O’Hair 1-0-1
Corey Pavin 1-1-2
David Toms 0-2-0
Day and Mickelson have faced off a total of seven times in the Presidents Cup, the first five in foursomes. Mickelson is 4-0-3 against the Aussie:
2011, Day Three: Mickelson/Furyk def. Day/Baddeley, 2 and 1
2013, Day Three: Mickelson/Bradley def. Day/DeLaet, 4 and 3
2013, Day Three: Mickelson/Bradley halved with Day/DeLaet,
2015, Day One: Mickelson, Z. Johnson def. Day/Bowditch, 2-up
2015, Day Two: Mickelson, Z. Johnson halved with Scott/Day
2017, Day One: Mickelson/Kisner halved with Day/Leishman
2017, Day Two: Mickelson/Kisner def. Day/Leishman, 1 up
Leishman is now 0-3-0 in the Four-Ball format.
Phil Mickelson’s Presidents Cup Record: 24-16-13
Phil Mickelson’s Four-Ball Record: 10-5-6
Kevin Kisner’s President’s Cup Record: 1-0-1
Kevin Kisner’s Four-Ball Record: 1-0-0
Jason Day’s Presidents Cup Record: 4-9-4
Jason Day’s Four-Ball Record: 3-3-1
Marc Leishman’s President’s Cup Record: 3-5-2
Marc Leishman’s Four-Ball Record: 0-3-0
Kevin Chappell/Charley Hoffman (U.S.) def.. Charl Schwartzel/Anirban Lahiri (International)
In a matchup that featured three of four players making their debut for the week (Chappell, Hoffman, Lahiri), Presidents Cup rookies Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell never trailed in their sound defeat of Charl Schwartzel and Anirban Lahiri, 6 and 5.
The win for Chappell and Hoffman was the largest margin by any two rookies playing together in their first Presidents Cup matches. Chappell holds the course record at Liberty National Golf Club, shooting a 62 in the third round of THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2013, the last time the first FedExCup Playoffs event was held at this venue (won by Adam Scott, a member of the International Team).
Lahiri is still winless in his Presidents Cup career, with an 0-4-0 combined record through the 2015 Presidents Cup and the first two days of this year’s event.
Despite the loss, Schwartzel is still an impressive 4-3-0 in Four-Ball matches.
Hoffman’s Presidents Cup record: 1-0-0
Hoffman’s Four-Ball record: 1-0-0
Chappell’s Presidents Cup record: 1-0-0
Chappell’s Four-Ball record: 1-0-0
Schwartzel’s Presidents Cup record: 6-9-1
Schwartzel’s Four-Ball record: 4-3-0
Lahiri’s Presidents Cup record: 0-4-0
Lahiri’s Four-Ball record: 0-2-0
Dustin Johnson/Brooks Koepka (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas (International), 3 and 2
The long-hitting duo of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka closed with two birdies to defeat Adam Scott and Jhonattan Vegas, 3 and 2. The International Team twice took a 1-up lead on the front nine, but the U.S. team countered, with both Koepka and Johnson making birdie at the par-3 7th.
Johnson, a four-time winner in the 2016-17 season, finished second in Driving Distance last season, averaging 315 yards per drive; Koepka finished seventh.
With the win, Johnson notched his first-career win in Four-Ball play in the Presidents Cup. Scott has lost 19 matches in his Presidents Cup career that spans eight events.
Dustin Johnson’s Presidents Cup Record: 6-4-1
Dustin Johnson’s Four-Ball Record: 1-3-0
Brooks Koepka’s Presidents Cup Record: 1-0-1
Brooks Koepka’s Four-Ball Record: 1-0-0
Adam Scott’s Presidents Cup Record: 13-19-5
Adam Scott’s Four-Ball Record: 5-7-3
Jhonattan Vegas’ Presidents Cup Record: 0-2-0
Jhonattan Vegas’ Four-Ball Record: 0-1-0