MELBOURNE, Australia – The International team has the lead going into the final day of the Presidents Cup for the first time in 16 years, and it has a trio of rookies to thank for that.
Marc Leishman and unbeaten rookie Abraham Ancer staged a remarkable rally Saturday afternoon in foursomes, going from 5 down with eight holes to play to earn a most unlikely halve against Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.
Byeong Hun An and Joaquin Niemann never led in the final match and scratched out another half-point against Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau.
That gave the Internationals a 10-8 lead going into Sunday singles, and a real chance to win the Presidents Cup for only the second time in its 25-year history.
It looked as though it could have been even larger, when the Internationals built a 9-5 lead after the morning session.
The Americans finally showed some fight, even with captain Tiger Woods sitting out for both sessions.
There was plenty of drama Saturday, and all that did was set the stage for 12 singles matches.
Woods sent out Reed and Webb Simpson for the third straight time in the morning, and they delivered a dud by making only one birdie in fourballs and losing, 5 and 3, to Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan.
Even more curious was Woods, who won matches each of the first two days with Thomas, benching himself in the morning and the afternoon, and saying it was best for his team.
“I trust the guys,” Woods said.
Dustin Johnson finally got the board when he and Gary Woodland took down Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen in the lead match in foursomes. California rookies Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantly rallied from 3 down through 5 holes by winning three straight holes and pulling away at the end over Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im.
It was only the third time in 13 events that the International team had the lead after team matches. It had a three-point lead in South Africa in 2003, the year the matches ended in a tie. And they had a nine-point lead at Royal Melbourne in 1998, the only team to beat the Americans.
Reed’s caddie says he shoved fan
The caddie for Patrick Reed said he shoved a fan after another loss at the Presidents Cup because the fan was too close to Reed and shouted an expletive at the embattled American player.
Kessler Karain, the brother-in-law of Reed, said he heard heckling for three days at Royal Melbourne and some had taken it too far and he’d had enough.
Reed was a singular target of the American team this year because of a rules violation last week in the Bahamas. He twice removed a clump of sand from behind his ball in a waste area at the Hero World Challenge. When he was shown the incident on video, Reed accepted the two-shot penalty.
Reed failed to make a birdie in fourballs Saturday morning as he and Webb Simpson lost for the third straight time.
“Riding on the cart, guy was about 3 feet from Patrick and said, ‘You (expletive) suck.’ I got off the cart and shoved him, said a couple things, probably a few expletives,” Karrain said in a statement to “Fore Play,” a podcast operated by Barstool Sports.
Karrain said security arrived and he left in the cart.
“I don’t think there’s one caddie I know that could blame me,” Karrain said. “Unless his bones break like Mr. Glass, the most harm done was a little spilled beer, which I’m more than happy to reimburse him for.”
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