JERSEY CITY, N.J. — There was a hope this week that the International team could make this an interesting Presidents Cup. We haven't even reached Saturday afternoon's four-ball session at Liberty National, and that hope has already been completely crushed. Team USA dominated the Saturday morning's foursomes session, taking 3½ out of the four points available and opening up an essentially insurmountable 11½-2½ lead.
Things looked bleak from the start for the Internationals, as Marc Leishman immediately drove his tee shot into the water on the first hole of the first match, eventually leading to a concession from he and Jason Day to Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. But the Aussies fought back, taking a 1-up lead at the seventh hole with a chip-in birdie from Day. That was about the last positive thing that happened for them, with Spieth and Reed making birdies at nine, 12, 13, 14 and 15 to close out the match, 4 and 3, and earn the Americans the first point of the day.
In match behind them, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar took charge right away, grabbing a 4-up lead on Adam Hadwin and Adam Scott through nine. The Internationals attempted to rally, cutting the lead to 2 up through 13, but Johnson and Kuchar won the next two holes to win, 4 and 3, and give the U.S. a 10-2 lead.
Emiliano Grillo and Jhonattan Vegas showed some signs of life against Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner in Match 3, battling to an all square tie through 13 holes. But Mickelson and Kisner went on to win three of the next four holes, ending the match on the 17th for a 2-and-1 victory.
The last chance for a full point came in the final match, between the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace and the undefeated American team of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. The Internationals led by as many as 2 up at the sixth hole, but Fowler and Thomas stormed back to take a 1-up lead through 10 holes. Grace and Oosthuizen got it back to all square with a birdie at the 11th, and that's where the match would end at the 18th, with a half point going to each team.
The Internationals were able to avoid a clean sweep, but they trail by nine points heading into the afternoon four-ball session, where they will likely need a clean sweep themselves to have a chance in Sunday's singles matches.
"Very hard. It's very hard," said International captain Nick Price about trying to keep his team's spirits up. "These guys are trying. It doesn't look like we are trying, but we are trying very hard. … The momentum is swung against us. Would have been great if we could have posted a point with one of the first two matches, but you know, we've just got to keep plugging along. We're not going to lay down."