Woods, Kuchar propel U.S. to big lead at Presidents Cup
DeLaet of Canada, Day log Internationals' only 4-balls win
Two things could be counted on for a Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village — rain and the Americans in control.
Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar remained undefeated with a 1-up win that came down to the last putt. Kuchar rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to hand Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama their first loss this week.
The Americans took four of the five matches in fourballs, with four of them reaching at least the 17th hole. That gave them a 10 1/2-6 1/2 lead going into the foursomes sessions Saturday afternoon. Because of another rain delay, however, they would not be able to complete them until Sunday morning.
It was the fourth straight year that the Americans had led by at least three at the halfway point of the Presidents Cup.
"We had close games that went the U.S. way," International captain Nick Price said. "We've still got another 17 points left. That's what I keep telling the guys. They're a little down after what happened this morning."
It already was afternoon when the "morning" session ended — the Friday matches had to be completed Saturday morning, and while there were only a few bursts of heavy rain, it was enough to create small pools on the greens and in bunkers. That took time to get the course ready.
Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan each won for the first time this week by holding off Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. The Americans had a 1-up lead with four holes to play. Oosthuizen missed an 8-foot birdie putt to win the 16th hole, and both South Africans found the bunker on the 18th with a chance to halve the match.
DeLaet gets Internationals' only win
The lone International win in fourballs came from Jason Day and Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., who gave Steve Stricker and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth their first loss. The American tandem of young and old — Stricker at 46 is the oldest player on either team — fell behind for the first time all week. Stricker's birdie on the 15th tied the match, only for DeLaet to stuff his tee shot into 6 feet for birdie on the 16th for a lead they held.
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley again went on a roll. They were 2 down through seven holes when they combined to birdie seven of the next eight holes that swung the match in their favour. They beat Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge, 2 and 1.
Angel Cabrera, after winning a foursomes match Saturday morning, struggled with his back and had no chance with Branden Grace, the only player without a point so far. Webb Simpson and Bill Haas delivered the only rout in fourballs, 4 and 3.
Woods and Kuchar were 3-0 going into foursomes Saturday afternoon.
Scott and Matsuyama won the first hole with a birdie and never trailed until the final holes. Woods stuffed his approach into 5 feet for birdie on the 13th. Kuchar, who had missed three putts inside 7 feet that would have won holes, finally converted from 7 feet on the 14th for their first lead. Woods then delivered the signature moment Saturday when he ripped a fairway metal, crouching and pumping his fist when it plugged 4 feet below the pin. The eagle was conceded. The lead was 2 up.
Matsuyama answered with a 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole. Scott had a birdie putt just inside 10 feet on the 18th for a good chance to earn a halve, but Kuchar made his birdie putt for the 1-up win.
"Boy, that sure was a fun way to end it," Kuchar said.
For Woods, it was his eighth straight win in the Presidents Cup when playing on home soil.
Earlier Saturday, Marc Leishman came up with a big putt and a superb 7-iron that led to birdies as he and Cabrera beat Snedeker and Simpson. That match allowed the International team to split the six matches of foursomes and at least keep it close.
But not for long. After the fourballs session, the Internationals had to win its first session of this Presidents Cup to at least have a reasonable chance Sunday.