US clings to slim lead

2013-10-05 16:25
Woods and Kuchar (AP Photo)

Columbus - Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar beat Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel 4 and 2 to spark the United States to a 6 1/2-5 1/2 lead Saturday at the Presidents Cup.

The Internationals and Americans split four alternate-shot matches that were completed Saturday morning because of a storm delay of two hours and 36 minutes on Friday at Muirfield Village.

Five four-ball matches and five more foursomes matches were also set to be completed by sunset Saturday to get the event back on schedule, with lift, clean and place rules in effect on the rain-soaked course.

World number one Woods, a 14-time major champion and PGA Player of the Year after five wins this season, and Kuchar, this year's WGC Match Play winner, improved to 2-0 as a partnership with a birdie at the par-3 16th to oust the South African major winners.

"It was a hell of a fight," Kuchar said. "Charl and Louis played really well. We had six birdies in the first seven holes and they were right there with us."

Woods is a five-time winner at the Memorial, the US PGA event played at Muirfield Village, while Kuchar, the 19th career partner for Woods in Ryder and Presidents Cup matches, is the defending Memorial champion.

But both have had to adapt with the course saturated after downpours.

"It's normal," Woods said. "The rough is a little more spotty. You can get some gnarly lies around the green."

Woods, whose 22 match wins are a Presidents Cup record, and Kuchar were paired together again for four-ball matches against reigning Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.

Scott and Matsuyama went 5-up after 12 holes on major winners Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson when Dufner missed a four-foot par putt to start the morning. The Americans rallied to win the next three holes with birdies but halved the next two to fall 2 and 1.

That gave the global stars split the foursomes session 3-3, the first time since 2005 that the Internationals had not lost a session in the alternate-shot format.

Steve Stricker missed a three-foot par putt at the par-3 16th but sank a six-footer to par the 17th and secure a 2-and-1 triumph for himself and Jordan Spieth over South Africans Richard Sterne and Branden Grace.

"It is difficult just putting them away," Stricker said. "You feel the nerves to close it out and they are free-wheeling because their backs are against the wall."

Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Australian Marc Leishman answered for the Internationals with a 2-and-1 victory over Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker.

Simpson hit the day's first shot, an approach at 14, inches from the cup for a birdie to square the match but birdies and 15 and 17 won the global duo after Snedeker missed a 10-foot birdie bid at the 17th hole.

In other four-ball matches, South African Ernie Els and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge were set to face Keegan Bradley and reigning British Open champion Phil Mickelson.

Stricker and Spieth, the oldest and youngest players in the event at 46 and 20 respectively, faced Canada's Graham DeLaet and Aussie Jason Day.

Cabrera and South African Branden Grace were to play Bill Haas and Simpson with Oosthuizen and Schwartzel together again against Snedeker and Hunter Mahan.

Sitting out for the four-balls were Dufner and Johnson as well as Sterne and Leishman.

Forecasts call for a 100-percent chance of storms on Sunday, when 12 concluding singles matches are scheduled and between one and three inches of rain are expected.

The matches can extend to an extra day but whoever leads at sunset Monday is the winner no matter how many matches are complete.


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