Notes: Spieth takes a breather after strong start
DUBLIN, Ohio – Coming into the 10th Presidents Cup matches, Jordan Spieth had been hailed as the new American wunderkind.
The Texan, now 20, had started the season with no Tour status. He parlayed seven sponsor exemptions into unlimited sponsor exemptions, then won the John Deere Classic and finished seventh in the final FedEx Cup standings, earning $3,879,819 in his rookie campaign.
Spieth’s previous experience in cup matches were at the amateur level. Now, with less than one full year of professional experience, he would be facing some of the best players in the world.
So it's no shame that Spieth would sit in the Saturday afternoon foursomes after a mediocre four-ball match with Steve Stricker and a loss to Jason Day and Graham DeLaet. Spieth's 2-1-0 record stands favorably against the debuts of some of today's biggest stars.
In 1994, Phil Mickelson played in four sessions, recording a 2-1-1 record, including a halve against Fulton Allem in singles.
In 1998, Tiger Woods went 1-3-0 in the first four sessions, but redeemed himself with a 1-up singles victory against Greg Norman.
In 1996, Ernie Els went 2-1-1 in the first four sessions and then defeated Phil Mickelson, 3 and 2, in Sunday singles.
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A DAGGER IN THE HEART: Losing a session can happen to any team, but losing four out of five points in the Saturday morning four-ball has made the Internationals' chances of getting the cup back very difficult.
This has been a pattern for the blue, white and gold-flagged team.
In 2011 at Royal Melbourne, the Internationals were down 7-5 after the first two days before the U.S. took a big lead in the Saturday morning foursomes, winning four of five matches for an 11-6 lead en route to an eventual 19-15 victory.
In 2007 at Royal Montreal, the U.S. was again leading 7-5 after two days, but in Saturday foursomes the U.S. won all five matches. At 12-5, the matches essentially were over.
Since the start of the matches in 1994, the U.S. has a record of 23-15-5 in the individual sessions after its Saturday’s four-ball victory.
In the matches other than singles, the U.S. has won four or more points 11 times versus the Internationals winning four or more points only five times.
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TIGER WOODS FINDS A NEW PARTNER: At the beginning of the matches, one of the big unanswered questions was: Who would pair with Tiger Woods?
Three days into the matches, the answer is clear: Matt Kuchar.
The Kuchar-Woods duo is undefeated in its first three matches, and they could make it a clean sweep as teammates if they can defeat Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge on Sunday morning in foursomes.
The Americans defeated Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman, 5 and 4, in Thursday’s four-ball.
Kuchar and Woods added a 4-and-2 victory against Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in Friday's foursomes and then rallied for a 1-up defeat of Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama in Saturday's four-ball.
“This guy is a horse; holy cow!” Kuchar said of Woods after their Saturday victory. “He played some incredible golf today. I was along for the ride for most of it. Let him down a couple times, missed a few putts, but, boy, that sure was a fun way to end it.”
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POSSIBLE BUT NOT PROBABLE: With the Internationals leading early in all five afternoon matches, a comeback for the visitors appeared within the realm of possibility.
But by the time the matches were called for the day, the possible became very unlikely. Zach Johnson jarred a wedge from 115 yards, and the move that captain Nick Price needed started to disappear as the U.S. extended its lead to 11 1/2 - 6 1/2 as Johnson and Dufner posted a 4-and-3 victory against Richard Sterne and Marc Leishman.
Since the format change in 2005 required two sessions on Saturday, the Internationals have won the Saturday afternoon session only once, 3 and 2 at Royal Melbourne in 2011.
The other three sessions were halved, but in each case that was four-ball and not foursomes.
With the U.S. leading by five points entering Sunday morning's resumption of foursomes play, the Internationals will not be able to assume the lead going into singles play.
The U.S. has lost the singles session but has never lost a Presidents Cup when leading the matches going into singles.
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EXPECT MORE RAIN: The weather forecast for Sunday is not promising, so the 12 singles matches will begin at approximately 9 a.m. versus the previously scheduled 12:04 p.m. start.