US close in on Cup

2011-11-19 10:14

Melbourne - South Korea's Kim Kyung-tae drained a clutch putt on the 18th hole to beat Tiger Woods in their four-ball match and give the Internationals a glimmer of hope with the Americans closing in on a seventh Presidents Cup victory on Saturday.

Partnered with YE Yang, Kim's six-foot knee-trembler in front of a massive gallery at Royal Melbourne sealed a 1-up victory over Woods and Dustin Johnson as the Internationals edged the United States 3-2 in the four-ball matches.

Having dominated the morning foursomes 4-1 on a wet and windy day, the U.S. will carry a 13-9 point lead into Sunday's singles and need only 4.5 points to clinch their fourth straight trophy at the venue of their sole loss in 1998.

Kim and Yang's personal triumph marked a banner day for South Korea as KJ Choi partnered with Australia's Geoff Ogilvy to defeat Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar 1-up.

Retief Goosen and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel earlier did the job for their captain Greg Norman, ending the dream run of Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson in the first four-ball match after surviving a late wobble.

"All the points are important now," two-time U.S. Open winner Goosen said in a greenside interview.

"I got spooked in the last few holes, couldn't get a ball in the hole, but lucky I could finish it off."

The Americans hit back, however, through Billy Haas and Hunter Mahan, the latter rolling in a 22-foot putt to slam the door on the par-four 17th and seal a 2&1 win over Australians Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day.

Adam Scott, who partnered Ernie Els, had a chance to steal a late half-point against Jim Furyk and Nick Watney on the 18th, but his long putt slid right of the hole as the Americans won the final match-up 1-up.

After Friday's heat and searing wind made for tough, attritional golf, players were tested again by showers and a chilly gale that pounded the course from the south.

Sparked by a third lead-off win by Cup debutants Watson and Simpson, the U.S., who had led 7-5 overnight, made light of the trying conditions in the morning foursomes.

Watson and Simpson proved themselves equally adept in the wet as they were in Friday's heat and wind, marching to a 3&2 win over Australians Robert Allenby and Ogilvy, their third straight victory.

"They are two unbelievable kids," U.S. captain Fred Couples told reporters. "I'm very, very proud of them ... They just are very good together and it's kind of fun to watch."

Mahan and David Toms earlier teamed up to thrash Goosen and Schwartzel 5&4 while Woods broke his drought by teaming up with Dustin Johnson to down Adam Scott and KJ Choi 3&2.

Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk closed out their third successive win with a 2&1 victory over Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day.

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa provided a rare bright patch on a gloomy morning for the Internationals with some brilliant clutch putting late in his match-up with Els to win a point against Haas and Kuchar.

The 20-year-old calmly rolled in a four-foot par putt on the 16th to go ne-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 the pair 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.

USA 13 Internationals 9

Foursomes: USA 4 Internationals 1
Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) bt Robert Allenby/Geoff Ogilvy (AUS/AUS) 3 and 2
Hunter Mahan/David Toms (USA) bt Charl Schwartzel/Retief Goosen (RSA/RSA) 5 and 4
Ernie Els/Ryo Ishikawa (RSA/JPN) bt Bill Haas/Matt Kuchar (USA) 1 up
Tiger Woods/Dustin Johnson (USA) bt Adam Scott/K.J. Choi (AUS/KOR) 3 and 2
Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk (USA) bt Aaron Baddeley/Jason Day (AUS/AUS) 2 and 1

Four-ball: USA 2 Internationals 3
Charl Schwartzel/Retief Goosen (RSA/RSA) bt Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) 2 and 1
Y.E. Yang/Kim Kyung-Tae (KOR/KOR) bt Tiger Woods/Dustin Johnson (USA) 1 up
Geoff Ogilvy/K.J. Choi (AUS/KOR) bt Steve Stricker/Matt Kuchar (USA) 1 up
Hunter Mahan/Bill Haas (USA) bt Aaron Baddeley/Jason Day (AUS/AUS) 2 and 1
Jim Furyk/Nick Watney (USA) bt Adam Scott/Ernie Els (AUS/RSA) 1 up

Friday four-ball: USA 3 Internationals 3

Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) bt Ernie Els/Ryo Ishikawa (RSA/JPN) 2 and 1
Steve Stricker/Matt Kuchar (USA) bt Y.E. Yang/Robert Allenby (KOR/AUS) 4 and 3
Aaron Baddeley/Jason Day (AUS/AUS) bt Tiger Woods/Dustin Johnson (USA) 1 up
Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk (USA) bt Adam Scott/Kim Kyung-Tae (AUS/KOR) 2 and 1.
Geoff Ogilvy/K.J. Choi (AUS/KOR) bt Bill Haas/Nick Watney (USA) 1 up
Charl Schwartzel/Retief Goosen (RSA/RSA) bt Hunter Mahan-David Toms (USA) 2 and 1

Thursday foursomes: USA 4 Internationals 2
Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) bt Ernie Els/Ryo Ishikawa (RSA/JPN) 4 and 2
Adam Scott/K.J. Choi (AUS/KOR) bt Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker (USA) 7 and 6
Hunter Mahan/David Toms (USA) bt Kim Kyung-Tae/Y.E. Yang (KOR/KOR) 6 and 5
Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk (USA) bt Retief Goosen/Robert Allenby (RSA/AUS) 4 and 3
Bill Haas/Nick Watney (USA) v Geoff Ogilvy/Charl Schwartzel (AUS/RSA) halved
Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (USA) v Aaron Baddeley/Jason Day (AUS/AUS) halved