Americans running away with Presidents Cup
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Phil Mickelson rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to cap off another big day for the Americans and set a record for the largest lead after two sessions in Presidents Cup history.
Another day like this and that’s what the International team will be — history.
Mickelson and Kisner never led against Jason Day and Marc Leishman until the par3 18th hole Friday at Liberty National. Mickelson poured in his birdie putt, and Leishman missed his from about the same range.
About the only thing that went wrong was the celebration. Mickelson, who on Thursday cropped himself out of a selfie with the last three U.S. presidents, missed a move in the “Three Amigos” dance with Kisner.
“I’m clearly the worst selfie taker. I’m the worst ‘Three Amigos’ dancer. But I can putt,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson, who has played in all 12 Presidents Cups, has 24 match victories to tie the record set by Tiger Woods in eight appearances. Woods was looking on in his role as an assistant to U.S. captain Steve Stricker.
And that’s about all the International team could do.
Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Hadwin were 2 up with four holes to play against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and had to settle for a halve. Even that felt like a small victory for the International team because Spieth had birdie putts on the final two holes that narrowly missed.
Justin Thomas, already with a big year behind him as a major champion and the FedEx Cup champion, teamed with Rickie Fowler for another easy victory. They have trailed only one hole in their two matches, and they became the first partnership to beat Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace.
They took the lead for good when Fowler made a 15-foot birdie putt on the third hole, and then Thomas produced the loudest cheer of the afternoon at a pivotal moment on the 14th hole. Oosthuizen hit his approach to 6 feet, while both Americans missed the green. From the left bunker, Thomas blasted out perfectly and watched in drop in for a birdie that kept the International team from cutting the deficit to 1 down.
Thomas birdied the next hole, and his bunker shot on the 16th hit the pin and somehow stayed out.
The shortest match of the day belonged to a pair of American rookies, Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman, who sat out the foursomes matches in the opening session. They were 3 up after four holes against Charl Schwartzel and Anirban Lahiri and never let up in a 6-and-5 victory.
Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, close friends and the last two U.S. Open champions, took their first lead on the par-3 10th with Koepka’s birdie, and Johnson showed rare emotion on his final two birdies in a 3-and-2 victory over Adam Scott and Jhonattan Vegas.
Just like the opening session, the matches looked as though they could go either way until the back nine. At one point, the International team led in three matches, only for all of them to turn.
In the five matches, the Americans won 13 holes on the back nine, compared to just three for the International team.
The Americans have a 9-11 lead in the series, their only loss coming in 1998 at Royal Melbourne. But it has at least been close after the opening two sessions, with neither side leading by more than two points since 1998.
With an 8-2 lead, the Americans have a mathematical chance to clinch on Saturday, which features four matches of foursomes in the morning and four matches of fourballs in the afternoon.
Phil Mickelson reacts after making his putt on the 18th hole during the four-ball matches in the Presidents Cup on Friday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.