Stop the fight! The International team is clearly on the ropes and can’t land a punch at the 12th Presidents Cup.
Battered after three days of being steamrolled by the Americans, it will take just one point from the singles matches for the US to put Nick Price’s men out of their misery.
The US fell one match win short of winning the Presidents Cup on Saturday afternoon. International pair Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim nosed their way in front with an eagle and birdie late in their match against Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman to avoid an American clean sweep of the afternoon Fourballs.
It also saved the Internationals from a humiliating Saturday loss, but it won’t halt the inevitable – the Americans will win the Presidents Cup for the seventh consecutive time and they will do it in record style.
Lahiri and Kim posted the only International victory during the two sessions played on Saturday. The Americans, on the other hand, enjoyed a day like few others in this event winning six of the eight matches and having one. The US heads into the final day singles leading 14½ to 3½ and needing one point to secure the trophy.
The 11-point margin is the largest ever going into the 12 singles matches, breaking the International record of nine points set at Royal Melbourne in 1998.
Price’s team now needs to avoid entering the history books as the worst ever –in Presidents and Ryder Cup competition.
In 2000, the US won the Presidents Cup 21½ to 10½ … that mark is likely to be surpassed. The largest winning margin by any team was at the 1967 Ryder Cup when the Americans defeated Great Britain by 15 points, 23½ to 8½. A greater winning margin at Liberty National is not out of the question considering the way the US team has played during the past three days.
The Americans have been nothing short of brilliant, holing bunker shots, chipping in and rolling in birdie putts with monotonous regularity and seemingly at will.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed looked like giving up a point to Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Day in the afternoon Fourball. They were one down with four holes to play before rattling off birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to win 2 & 1.
Good mates Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger were 3 down after four holes to Hideki Matsuyama and Jhonattan Vegas but won six of the next 12 holes to win 3&2.
Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka were never behind in their match and added the afternoon’s third point to the US total with a 3&2 win over Branden Grace and Marc Leishman. Johnson is so far undefeated with four wins during this Cup campaign.
It was a similar scenario in the Foursomes earlier in the day.
Time and again, putts to win holes shaved the cup while on the flip side, the Americans were invariably able to conjure something out of nothing to save a half or drain a lengthy birdie putt to win against the odds.
Grace and Oosthuizen were responsible for the only ½ point won on Saturday morning but could get absolutely nothing going with the putter on the back nine in their clash with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas.
On the 15th and 16th, Oosthuizen left putts on the lip that might have toppled in to give the Internationals the win, but both refused to drop. As it was, Grace had to hole a nervy six-footer on the 18th to force Thomas to hole a shorter putt to halve the match.
“We would have loved a win but to get half a point after that grind was worth it.” Grace said.
“We got a little bit unlucky towards the end. Louis hit some superb putts on 16, 17, and they got a little bit lucky there with almost going in the water on 15.”
“On a day like today, you have to make the most out of your lucky bounces, and they did just that.”
After being all square with Reed and Spieth through 11 holes, the match quickly slipped away from Leishman and Day from hole 12, losing four in a row to concede the match 4&3.
Reed in particular, showed his love of these team formats with another passionate display where he virtually beat the Australian duo on his own with his short game and putting, words I'm afraid that have rarely been used in the same sentence in relation to the Internationals this week.
In the other matches, the South American pairing of Emiliano Grillo and Jnonattan Vegas put in a stoic effort against Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner but lost their chance to tie the match at the 18th with a closing bogey to lose 2-down.
The win was Mickelson’s 25th in the Presidents Cup, a record he shared for one day with assistant captain Tiger Woods.
In the remaining match, the two Adams – Scott and Hadwin – struggled to make any ground against the duo of Matt Kuchar and Johnson, with the match wrapped up after Kuchar drained a 16-foot birdie putt to win 4&3.
“The Americans have played so well,” Lahiri said. “We are all trying our best. Let's not take any credit away from them. They are a well-oiled machine. But sometimes, everything is stacked against you.”
Yes there is no doubt the Americans, arguably one of the best teams fielded in any competition for many years, are on their game.
“Team USA is playing really well and they have all year, and they came into this event riding a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence, and they really get excited to play these team events and it's showing.” Captain Steve Stricker said.
“They love being together and competing, and that's what we're saying.”
And don’t expect the Americans to have any sympathy for the Internationals.
“Our goal is still to stay focused and (U.S. captain Steve Stricker) is pushing this,” Jordan Spieth said. “It's easy to get complacent with the way things are right now, and it's easy to come out tomorrow lazy.
“If we set a goal to win each session, then each individual is going to be very focused on their own match and trying to be one of the people that does help win that session for us.”
Team-mate Daniel Berger added this to the mix, giving an insight to the American mindset heading into the singles.
“Our goal from the minute we got here was to crush them as bad as we can. I hope we go out there tomorrow and beat them even worse,” he said.