US open up record Presidents Cup lead

Jonathan Hernandez
October 1, 2017

The US took a big step towards to a seventh successive Presidents Cup win by taking an 8-2 lead at the halfway stage over the global team.

So complete has been the United States dominance that they can clinch the Cup on Saturday, leaving Sunday's singles nothing more than dead rubbers.

Although Leishman and Jason Day then rallied to lead Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed 1-up through eight holes, it was the Americans who emerged with a 4 & 3 victory.

Presidents Cup debutantes Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell, who sat out Thursday's opening foursomes, showed no signs of jitters as they led the American stampede with a dominating 6&5 victory over South African Charl Schwartzel and India's Anirban Lahiri to notch the first point of the day.

World Number 1 Johnson caught fire on the back 9 and wrapped up the match for the US on the 16th winning 3 & 2.

The Internationals failed to a win a full point, the first time that's happened since 1994, and the United States extended its lead to 8-2 for the largest advantage after two sessions. 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.

Mickelson again came up trumps on the Presidents Cup stage, all square before a clutch birdie on the 18th from the veteran stole the match from the Aussie's 1up.

After starting the day with a 3.5-1.5 lead, the U.S. won four out of the five fourballs sessions on Friday. "And you know, with having just as much success as we've had in the past, it's always great to see that matchup pop up and to be able to know that you're playing with someone that you have so much confidence with and also for whenever you're in any situation". While both teams would add the half point to their scoreboard, it had to feel like a tremendous loss for the global team that had the Americans' marquee pair on the ropes.

It looked a little awkward, though Mickelson did slightly better than when he cropped most of his face out of a selfie he took during the opening ceremony with the last three US presidents. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are now 6-1-2 as a pair in the Ryder and Presidents Cups.

A day after Matt Kuchar and Daniel Berger embedded with the USA fans while benched during the Presidents Cup, Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner have joined in on the fun.

Their story encapsulated the troubles for the Internationals; starting with three consecutive birdies they had control of the match, then gradually surrendered it.

If the United States team bags a clean sweep of the best-ball format, they will clinch the Presidents Cup before the Sunday singles matches for the first time in the event's 23-year history.

The best shot I saw all day was Justin Thomas' hole-out from the bunker at the 14th hole, which is the 18th for the usual layout here at Liberty National.

In amongst that he virtually left Schwartzel one-out against the Americans with a string of bad shots. Koepka hit his tee shot on the par-3 10th to 12 feet and made the birdie to give his team its first lead of the match, and Johnson got up-and-down on the reachable par-4 12th for a 2-up lead.

This had the trappings of the closest match of the day, with each team winning two holes on the front nine and the match all square going to the back.

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