Team USA opened up a commanding six-point lead over the International following a dominant display in Friday’s fourballs at the Presidents Cup in New Jersey.
The hosts had built up a two-point lead following the opening day’s foursomes and extended their advantage thanks to some inspired play from their pivotal players to increase their chances of securing a seventh consecutive victory in the biennial matchplay event.
Steve Stricker’s side claimed four-and-a-half points from a possible five at Liberty National GC to damage Nick Price’s International hopes of securing a surprise victory.
American rookies Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell, left out of Thursday’s foursomes action, thrashed Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel 6&5 in the fourth game to get the opening point on the board for the hosts.
Justin Thomas, last week’s FedEx Cup champion, and Rickie Fowler overcame South African duo Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace 3&2 to hand a first defeat for the South African in the Presidents Cup after winning their opening five matches as a duo.
“We are going to play in 15 or 20 more years of this stuff and if we continue to be partners there are going to be rounds where we really rely on the other,” Thomas told Sky Sports.
“He (Fowler) really held us in the start when I wasn’t playing really well and then I made a couple of birdies later but it was just such a great victory for us today.”
The big-hitting partnership of major winners Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka earned a hard-fought 3&2 success against the International pairing of Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Adam Hadwin and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama were unable to capitalise on a 2-up lead with only four holes to play against the proven matchplay pairing of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed as the Texan duo snatched a half in the opening encounter.
The final match like the top match went the distance and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson showed his composure to make a 12-foot birdie putt to recover from a losing position, two down after the front nine, against the Australian duo Jason Day and Marc Leishman.
Team USA need a further seven-and-a-half points to reach the 15 1/2 points target needed for victory with four foursomes and four fourballs encounters to follow on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s 12 singles matches.
Watch the Presidents Cup throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Saturday behind the red button from 1.00pm and uninterrupted from 5.00pm.
Live PGA Tour Golf
September 30, 2017, 5:00pm
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