Monday, 7 October 2013

US poised for fifth Presidents Cup win in a row

Tiger Woods of the US Team watches his approach shot on the 15th hole during the day three four-ball matches at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on October 5, 2013
United States golfers were on the verge of winning the Presidents Cup for the fifth time in a row Sunday after a shock collapse left the reeling Internationals searching for a miracle.
The Americans lead 14-8 entering 12 concluding singles matches, needing only four victories at rain-soaked Muirfield Village to win the trophy outright and improve to 8-1-1 in the overall rivalry.
No team has ever rallied in the singles, where no matches can be halved until the Cup is decided, to take the trophy. The Internationals would need nine wins just to share the Cup as they did in 2003.
"We're up against it. We're just going to have to fight as hard as we can," said Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia. "We're looking for one of those miracle comebacks I guess."
But it was the Americans who made such a rally to take 2 1/2 points in four alternate-shot matches that were halted Saturday by darkness.
Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker, 3-down after 12 holes at nightfall, won four of the last six holes to beat South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen 1-up.
"I can't believe we did it but I'm happy to get the win," said Simpson.
Back-to-back bogeys for the South Africans at 13 and 14 and a shot out of bounds at the par-5 15th let the US duo jump from 3-down to level.
Simpson sank a four-foot par putt to win the 17th hole and Snedeker made a short par putt to halve 18 and win the match, the South Africans having played the last six holes 5-over par.
"The delay (overnight) helped a lot," Snedeker said. "We needed to go in, recharge the batteries and come out refreshed and ready."
South Africa's Ernie Els and Zimbabwe's Brendon De Jonge nearly squandered a 3-up lead but edged world number one Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar 1-up.
Els missed a three-foot par putt at 10 to drop the hole, but hit a 10-foot birdie at the par-3 12th. De Jonge followed with an eight-foot birdie at 14 to put the Africans 3-up.
But the US duo eagled to win 15 and de Jonge found the water at 16, forcing clutch halves but the Africans, the last a five-foot par putt by Els at 18, to claim the point.
"It was very satisfying to make that putt, just to win the match, because we were playing good."
Players were using lift, clean and place rules on the soggy layout. Since Thursday, downpours have dumped 1.62 inches of rain on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
Storms could force some golfers to play more than three rounds in swampy conditions over barely 32 hours.
"This has been a tough one," US captain Fred Couples said. "Maybe once in 30 years and 700 tournaments (I've seen it like this before)."
Canada's Graham DeLaet and Australian Jason Day halved with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley after DeLaet chipped in from 25 feet at 18 for birdie.
"It was unbelievable, just one of the coolest feelings in my life really," DeLaet said.
Keegan Bradley followed with a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the hole and match after a 190-yard approach shot around a tree by Mickelson.
"It was the most nervous I have ever been," Bradley said. "But I want everyone to know that his shot was a lot tougher than my putt."
A birdie at the 14th put Mickelson and Bradley 1-up, but DeLaet sank a long putt to halve 15 and made a par putt to win 16 after Bradley found water off the tee.
Steve Stricker and Bill Haas defeated Scott and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama 4 and 3.

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