The Internationals' stunning Presidents Cup blitz continues with Ernie Els' underdogs extending their lead to four points at Royal Melbourne.
Undefeated American Justin Thomas briefly reduced the deficit to two points when he and Rickie Fowler teamed up for a 3 & 2 victory over Marc Leishman and Haotong Li in Saturday's opening fourball match.
But a 3 & 2 win for Abraham Ancer and Sungjae Im over Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, and a 5 & 3 mauling of Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson by Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan put the Internationals ahead 8.5 to 4.5.
The morning's final match between the Internationals' Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An and US duo Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau was all locked up through 14 holes, before An broke the deadlock with a birdie on the par-5 15th. Kuchar had a chance to halve the hole with a birdie of his own from just four feet, but his putt shaved the cup.
The Scott-An pairing maintained their advantage through until the 18th hole, where Finau made a nerve-wracking six-footer for birdie to snatch a crucial half point for the Americans, who needed to win that final fourball to have any hope of regaining the lead heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches. The best they could hope for was an afternoon clean sweep of the foursomes session o draw level with the Internationals.
The Els-led team led 6.5 to 3.5 after Friday's foursomes, ensuring the first time since 2005 the Internationals entered the weekend in front, where they've so far shown an eagerness to maintain their advantage heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches.
While Thomas has been a shining light for the struggling US, Reed and Simpson have been a massive disappointment for Tiger Woods, who must surely be lamenting his decision to pair them up for three straight days.
Woods opted to sit out of the morning session despite winning both his matches with Thomas on Thursday and Friday.
Ancer continues to be the major star for the Internationals.
The Mexican is unbeaten in three matches, playing with three different partners, living up to Scott's prediction that the 2018 Australian Open champion would be a "big points winner" for the Internationals at Royal Melbourne.
“They have been outstanding partners, every single one,” Ancer said. “They have contributed so much. They all made me feel very comfortable out here, plus their game is absolutely phenomenal.
“It's been great. I'm going to go out with my boys to finish off the session and get ready for the afternoon.”
Im has also yet to lose, winning two matches and halving a third.
As expected, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson were benched for the afternoon foursomes, as was playing Captain Tiger Woods, despite winning both matches he has played in.
“You have to do what's best for the team, and I'm getting ready for the singles tomorrow,” said Woods about his decision not to play.
Els was not surprised to see his counterpart sit out for a second consecutive session.
“Well, it's a cold day, a cold morning, and we have all been up since very early. I could see it, when I saw Tiger today, this morning, he was walking a little bit stiff, you know, because he was a bit tight,” Els said.
“Surprised, but not, because of his injury that he's had with his back; and his record with J.T (Justin Thomas) has been unbelievable. It must be a little bit of a setback to them because Tiger has done so well in the last couple of sessions, but you know, obviously J.T. is playing with Rickie Fowler and they are a pretty good combination, too.”