The Internationals have retained their three-point Presidents Cup lead over the USA after splitting Friday’s foursomes at Royal Melbourne.
A stirring late fightback from the US kept Tiger Woods’ hot favourites in the contest after the Internationals at one stage held a 6-1 advantage and also led in the remaining three matches.
Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen thumped Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar three and two in the opening match before Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer beat Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed by the same dominant scoreline.
After a 4-1 drubbing in Thursday’s fourballs, the US’s 21-year stranglehold on the cup looked to be slipping as the Internationals appeared on track to win their first foursomes session since 2005.
But Xander Shauffele and Patrick Cantlay sparked the US fightback with a dramatic win over Adam Hadwin and Joaquin Niemann, who had only trailed for two holes all afternoon before Cantlay drained a four-metre birdie putt on the last.
Minutes later, Woods and Justin Thomas – the US’s only fourball winners on Thursday – again delivered to give the Americans their second win of the day.
Thomas’s birdie at the last delighted his playing captain Woods and reduced the Internationals’ lead to 6-3.
The final match of the day, featuring Cup rookies Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith against US Open champion Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler, also went down to the wire.
Im missed a four-metre birdie putt at the last before Fowler holed a clutch par putt to halve the match for the USA, leaving the Internationals leading 6.5 to 3.5 entering Saturday’s double session of 10 fourballs and foursomes matches.
Internationals captain Ernie Els was philosophical after watching his side let a potential 9-1 lead slip.
“Yeah, it’s perspective, isn’t it,” Els said.
“I’ve got to look at where we are. It’s easy to just look at where we could have been, because it was looking really unbelievable.
“But we’re in a very good position.”