The Internationals’ stunning Presidents Cup blitz continues with Ernie Els’ underdogs extending their lead to four points at Royal Melbourne.
Undefeated American Justin Thomas briefly reduced the deficit to two points when he and Rickie Fowler teamed up for a three-and-two victory over Marc Leishman and Haotong Li in Saturday’s opening fourball match.
But a three-and-two win for Abraham Ancer and Sungjae Im over Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, and a five-and-three mauling of Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson by Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan put the Internationals ahead 8.5 to 4.5.
The morning’s final match between the Internationals’ Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An and US duo Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau was a thriller, with Finau making a clutch birdie on the last to tie the match.
The Americans needed to win it to have any hope of regaining the lead heading into Sunday’s 12 singles matches.
The Els-led team led 6.5 to 3.5 after Friday’s foursomes, ensuring the first time since 2005 the Internationals entered the weekend in front, where they’ve so far shown an eagerness to maintain their advantage heading into Sunday’s 12 singles matches.
While Thomas has been a shining light for the struggling US, Reed and Simpson have been a massive disappointment for Tiger Woods, who must surely be lamenting his decision to pair them up for three straight days.
Woods opted to sit out of the morning session despite winning both his matches with Thomas on Thursday and Friday, but the superstar captain will almost certainly pick himself for Saturday afternoon’s foursomes.
Ancer continues to be the major star for the Internationals.
The Mexican is unbeaten in three matches, living up to Scott’s prediction that the 2018 Australian Open champion would be a “big points winner” for the Internationals at Royal Melbourne.
Im has also yet to lose, winning two matches and halving a third.