NEW JERSEY • Top-ranked International team member Hideki Matsuyama acknowledged on Friday that he has not carried his weight in the first two days at the Presidents Cup as the United States side took a commanding 8-2 lead.
The Japanese player, ranked third in the world, has gone off the boil since he finished tied for fifth at the US PGA Championship in August and has no idea why.
"I wish I knew why I haven't been playing well," he said, after he and Canadian partner Adam Hadwin halved their four-ball match against Americans Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Matsuyama said that Hadwin had carried him on the back nine, as the International duo surrendered a two-up lead over the final four holes.
"Yesterday I drove it well but today I was all over the place," said Matsuyama, who lost his foursomes match on Thursday with Charl Schwartzel.
The 25-year-old said he had cracked the face of his driver at the BMW Championship two weeks ago and has struggled with his tee shots ever since.
"Since then I've been trying to find another shaft and head to go together," he said.
UNITED STATES 8
FRIDAY'S FOUR-BALL: USA 41/2 INTERNATIONALS 1/2
• Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed halved Hideki Matsuyama/ Adam Hadwin (Jpn/Can)
• Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas bt Louis Oosthuizen/ Branden Grace (Rsa) 3 & 2
• Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner bt Jason Day/Marc Leishman (Aus) 1-up
• Kevin Chappell/Charley Hoffman bt Charl Schwartzel/ Anirban Lahiri (Rsa/Ind) 6 & 5
• Dustin Johnson/ Brooks Koepka bt Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas (Aus/Ven) 3 & 2
USA 31/2 INTERNATIONALS 11/2
International captain Nick Price benched Matsuyama for the foursomes early yesterday.
"I spoke to him, and he just said, 'my timing's off,'" Price said. "He said, 'Adam played great today, and I kind of felt like I let him down a little bit because I hit a lot of loose shots and left him on his own a lot.'
"And when a player tells you that, he's basically telling you, 'sit me out tomorrow. That's what we decided to do.'"
Another International team member who had a day to forget was India's Anirban Lahiri, who was disqualified from playing the third hole after taking a practice shot out of the bunker at the second. Players are allowed to practise putting after the holes have been determined, but cannot practise shots from anywhere else on the course.
"I think it was just an oversight on his part," said International captain Nick Price. "He's obviously trying to prove to all of us that his pick was worth it and it's put a lot of pressure on him."
Price may have been sympathetic but he had no time to ease Lahiri, one of his captain's picks, out of his 0-4-0 funk and benched him for yesterday's foursomes.
Lahiri and South African partner Schwartzel absorbed the worst beating as Presidents Cup rookies Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell administered a 6&5 thrashing.
With the US team already having a big lead, only a massive turnaround by the Internationals in the eight matches yesterday will leave any suspense heading into today's 12 singles at Liberty National.
The US are more than halfway to the 15.5 points they need for a 10th win.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Day 4: Singles StarHub Ch112/205 & 76.25MHz, 11.55pm