US maintain slim edge at storm-hit Presidents Cup


Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - Page 18

Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els each sparked triumphs on Friday at the storm-hit Presidents Cup, but four matches were suspended by darkness as the potential for a finish tomorrow loomed.

At sunset, the US led the Internationals 4.5 to 3.5, with each team ahead in two of the matches that were to be finished yesterday before the start of five four-ball and five foursomes matches at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Reigning British Open champion Mickelson, a five-time major winner, and Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, defeated Australian Jason Day and Canada’s Graham DeLaet 4-and-3.

However, the Internationals answered when South Africa’s Els and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge beat Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas 4-and-3.

“We both played well,” Els said. “We had a lot of looks at birdies. We were seven-under when we finished. That’s going to win most matches.”

A severe thunderstorm dumped nearly an 2.5cm of rain on the course in about 90 minutes and halted play for two hours, 36 minutes, ensuring not all would finish.

“Everyone is sort of getting tired now,” Internationals captain Nick Price said. “It’s just the mental impact of sitting there, drying everything off and going back out to a wet course.”

The US team lead the biennial rivalry 7-1-1 after winning the past four in a row.

The Internationals have not won an alternate-shot session since 2005, dropping seven in a row to the US.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were 3-up over South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen after 12 holes, while Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth led South Africans Richard Sterne and Branden Grace 3-up with four holes to play.

World No. 2 Adam Scott, the reigning Masters champion from Australia, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama led major winners Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson 4-up after 11 holes, while Aussie Marc Leishman and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera led Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson 1-up after 13.

In the US win, Day sank a 12-foot birdie putt to win the first hole and only 15-foot putts by Bradley at the second and fourth to halve the holes kept the US duo close.

“They gave me more of a burst of energy watching them as if I had made them,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson responded with a 17-foot eagle putt to win the par-five fifth, then hit an approach inches from the hole to set up a birdie to take the sixth.

Birdies at seven and eight stretched the US lead and just after play resumed, Day missed a par putt at 10 to fall 4-down. Bradley sank birdie putts at 11 and 12.

Bradley missed a 3-foot par putt to lose the 13th and his poor tee shot led to a bogey to drop the 14th, but Bradley sank a birdie putt at the par-five 15th to halve the hole and win the match.

Three birdies and an eagle in the first five holes put Els and De Jonge ahead and Els halved the ninth with a bunker chip-in birdie just before the storm.

A birdie at 11 put them 4-up and the Africans halved the rest to seal the victory.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” Els said of De Jonge.

“I’ve played nicely, but don’t let Ernie give me all the credit,” De Jonge said. “He gives me great confidence and is a calming influence out there.”

Woods and Kuchar birdied six of the first seven holes to seize command of their match.