Presidents Cup: Kisner, Mickelson battle to halve match with Day, Leishman

Presidents Cup - Preview Day 3 Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

Presidents Cup: Kisner, Mickelson battle to halve match with Day, Leishman

PGA Tour

Presidents Cup: Kisner, Mickelson battle to halve match with Day, Leishman

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Two Presidents Cup veterans, two heralded rookies and it all ended in an appropriate draw. 

Finished on Liberty National’s par-3 18th with a pair of alternate-shot bogeys, a late arriving fan might have seen only nervous play down the stretch. But that discounts some tremendous early play from Team USA’s Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson, who birdied their first three holes in foursomes Thursday while playing in brutal winds gusting to 20 mph.

The Americans triumphed over Internationals Jason Day and Marc Leishman in the day’s final match as the U.S. built a 3.5-1.5 lead.

Turning point

After a 319-yard drive by Leishman, Day put his playing partner over the par-5 ninth green in two. The team of Kisner-Mickelson put their ball on the green in two and had a 14-foot eagle putt. Things looked bleak for the Internationals until Leishman coaxed a gentle bump-and-run wedge shot into the hole for eagle. The 33-year-old Australian celebrated with a group of Canadian fans clad in red-and-white body suits. 

The eagle, followed by Kisner’s missed attempt, reduced the deficit to 1 down. Here it is:

Who’s hot?

Mickelson. After a rough season, the last player of the group you’d expect to be an alternate shot anchor inherited some loose iron shots by Kisner but never gave any impression of discouragement toward his rookie partner. From Mickelson’s take charge first-tee attitude to a big thank you to the gathered former U.S. Presidents (Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton) Mickelson once again delivered the veteran presence that makes him America’s all-time greatest team point earner. 

Top shot

At the peak gusts, Day played a glorious knockdown 9-iron on the par-3 10th to 4 feet, 10 inches. Leishman made the birdie putt for the International squad’s third hole win, bringing the match to all square. 

Strange order

Day used iron off most tees but attempted to drive the 12th green and missed well into the hazard. In a strange scene, Leishman’s point of entry drop location was a forward tee box, well behind the tee shot lay up of Phil Mickelson.  

That meant Kisner would be playing the approach shot from a location closer to the flagstick than Leishman, who had been driven back toward the tee for the International’s third shot. Match referee Robby Ware explained to Kisner that he was technically away because a match must play in proper order which was determined by the final resting spots of the tee shot. 

Etc.

Before the opening ceremony, Mickelson was the first player to arrive at the first tee to thank Clinton, Bush and Obama for their attendance. “It means so much to us,” he could be seen saying as he shook each hand before taking the first selfie of his life, according to brother and caddie Tim Mickelson, who then posted the shot on his Instagram page.  

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