Dominant Americans on cusp of early celebration with Cup
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Phil Mickelson set the Presidents Cup record on Saturday with his 25th victory, and the Americans moved to the cusp of their most dominant performance.
With the foursomes match all square, Mickelson dropped in two wedges to short range for birdies on the 15th and 17th holes and Kevin Kisner converted the birdies for a 2-and-1 victory over Jhonattan Vegas and Emiliano Grillo.
The Americans won three matches and halved the other in Saturday morning foursomes, giving them an 111⁄2-21⁄2 lead. They headed off into four matches of fourballs in the afternoon with a mathematical chance to win the cup before the today singles.
“We're just trying to win every session,” Justin Thomas said. “We know that if we win every session every day, then that's going to be good enough to get it done.” It has been more than enough. For the second straight session, the International team failed to win a match. Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace halved the last seven holes and earned a half-point against Thomas and Rickie Fowler.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed were in a tight match with Jason Day and Marc Leishman until they birdied the 12th, Spieth hit a wedge to 6 feet that Reed made on the 13th, and Day drove into a bunker on the 14th that led to bogey and a third straight loss. The Americans won the last four holes.
Dustin Johnson remained undefeated at Liberty National when he teamed with Matt Kuchar and ran away from the sloppy play of Adam Scott and Adam Hadwin, who had three double bogeys. Scott now has lost 20 matches in the Presidents Cup, a record for either team.
Vegas and Grillo brought the passion, and it still wasn't enough. Their match against Kisner and Mickelson was tied at the turn and stayed that way until the 14th hole, when Grillo ran into trouble off the tee, Vegas had to lay up and they made bogey.
Mickelson took it from there. He hit a wedge to 2 feet on the 15th for a 2-up lead, only for Grillo to drill his tee shot to 2 feet on the par-3 16th. On the 17th, with a pin in the back on a tiered green with severe slopes, Mickelson hit wedge to the back fringe and it spun down to about 6 feet. Vegas narrowly missed his birdie attempt, and Kisner rolled in the birdie for the victory.
There was no dance this time, unlike Saturday, when they re-enacted the celebratory dance from the movie “Three Amigos.” The Presidents Cup at that point was out of hand, and everyone knew it.
“This is probably the best U.S. team ever,” Charl Schwartzel said. “And they're on form.”
It takes 151⁄2 points to win, and the Americans could reach that with a sweep of fourballs. The record margin was in 2000, when the Americans won 211⁄2-101⁄2 with 32 matches played. Now there are only 30 matches.