US charge ahead
Melbourn - The United States struck a decisive blow in their Presidents Cup defence early on Saturday, making light of wet conditions at Royal Melbourne Golf Club to win four of the final five foursomes matches against the Internationals.
Leading 7-5 overnight, the US charged to 11-6 in persistent rain to take a stranglehold of the biennial trophy with the final four-ball matches still to be played on Saturday.
Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson showed themselves to be equally adept in the wet as they were in Friday's heat and wind, marching to a 3 and 2 victory over the all-Australian pairing of Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy.
The win, their third from three matches in the tournament, continued their dream Cup debut as the Australians' intimate knowledge of the Royal Melbourne layout was rendered redundant by struggles on the greens.
"They are two unbelievable kids," US captain Fred Couples told reporters. "I'm very, very proud of them and happy for them ... They just are very good together and it's kind of fun to watch."
The pair have a chance to match Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker's record 4-0 partnership from the 2009 Cup in San Francisco against Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel in the four-ball matches later on Saturday.
The South Africans, who won their four-ball match on Friday, were thrashed 5 and 4 in the foursomes by Hunter Mahan and David Toms.
Ryo Ishikawa provided a rare bright patch on a gloomy morning for the Internationals with some brilliant clutch putting late in his match with Ernie Els to salvage a point against Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar.
The 20-year-old Japanese calmly rolled in a four-foot par putt on the 16th to put he and Els one-up, then sparked raucous cheers from spectators as he drained a 14-footer to protect the lead on the 17th.
He finished off nervelessly sinking a five-footer to seal the win and give he and Els' a breakthrough victory after two straight losses to Watson and Simpson in their opening matches.
"The man's got so much heart, I could see it even in our first two matches," South African Els said in a greenside interview. "I could see Ryo was finding his feet on the golf course ... Today he played unbelievable.
"His putting reminds me a little of myself back in the day ... I'm so glad to have played with him."
Despite finding some form, Ishikawa's reward will be to sit out the final four-ball matches after the pairings were decided by Norman and his assistants before his hot putting streak.
Woods broke his winning drought at this tournament by teaming up with Dustin Johnson to down Adam Scott and KJ Choi 3&2, before Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk closed out their third successive win with a 2 and 1 victory over Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day.
Mickelson, whose putting has plagued him throughout the event, drained a monster putt on the 17th to seal the win.
Despite his winning form, Mickelson, along with fellow old-timer Toms, will be rested for the final four-ball matches.
"Phil wanted to sit [out] from the beginning and he wanted to be fresh from tomorrow," Couples said. "Yesterday was a grind."
A disappointed Norman had planned for his team to pick up at least half a point on the Americans after the morning foursomes but was left staring at the brink of defeat in his second successive Cup as captain.
"The guys have got get out and play a little bit looser than they have this morning," the Australian said.