Internationals cut US lead to one, Bae rewards home fans

Phil Mickelson was hit by a rare infringement of the rules at the Presidents Cup but he and Zach Johnson rallied to halve the match.
Phil Mickelson was hit by a rare infringement of the rules at the Presidents Cup but he and Zach Johnson rallied to halve the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

INCHEON • The International team lifted their mood with a stirring comeback yesterday at the Presidents Cup as home hero Bae Sang Moon raised the roof with a final-hole match-winning putt.

The Internationals won three, lost one and halved one of the five fourballs to reduce the deficit to the United States to just one point after being 1-4 down overnight at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.

And they did it on a day that had threatened to be overshadowed by a controversial incident on the seventh hole where Phil Mickelson was penalised for playing the wrong type of ball.

Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen had been the International team's lone winning pair on Thursday. Yesterday, they led off with a 4-and-3 victory over world No. 1 Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.

Three of the other four matches were decided on the 18th green of a pulsating day as the two teams battled blow for blow. It was there to a cacophonous roar that Bae sank a snaking 12-foot birdie putt that enabled him and Korean-born Kiwi Danny Lee to beat Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker by the narrowest margin in matchplay - one up.

His putt meant the Internationals had won the first two matches and reduced the score to 3-4, while drama unfolded elsewhere.

At the seventh, Mickelson and Zach Johnson lost the hole "twice" after being penalised in a baffling rules infringement.

The US pair stood on the seventh tee, all square in the third match - against Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day. But by the time they walked off the green, they were two holes down, something that would seem impossible in matchplay golf.

It turned out Mickelson had breached a rule which states you must play the entire round with the same brand and model of golf ball.

He noticed he had a different model of Callaway ball after hitting his tee shot on the seventh. He reported himself to the match referee who prevented him from finishing the hole. Zach Johnson made a par five but Day won the hole for the International team with a birdie.

Mark Russell, vice-president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour, told reporters why the unusual penalty had been imposed.

"The penalty for breach of this (One-Ball Condition) is a one-hole adjustment to the state of the match," he explained.

"The USA side lost the seventh hole, making the International side one up. At this point, the adjustment penalty of one hole is applied, resulting in the International side being two up through seven holes."

Still, Mickelson showed his class as the US pair fought back to halve the match.

Meanwhile, Thongchai Jaidee put his poor opening-day display behind him as he teamed up with Charl Schwartzel to defeat Bill Haas and Chris Kirk 2 and 1.

Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes took the lone US win on Day 2 with a two-up victory over Marc Leishman and Steven Bowditch.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

THE PRESIDENTS CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Internationals cut US lead to one, Bae rewards home fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe