Golf: US eye historic Presidents Cup win

Hideki Matsuyama of the International team hitting from the sand on the 14th hole during the second round four-ball matches of The President's Cup golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course on Sept 29, 2017.
Hideki Matsuyama of the International team hitting from the sand on the 14th hole during the second round four-ball matches of The President's Cup golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course on Sept 29, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS
 Kevin Chappell and Charlie Hoffman of the US team celebrate on the 13th green after defeating the International team's Anirban Lahiri of India and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa 6&5 in Friday's four-ball match.
Kevin Chappell and Charlie Hoffman of the US team celebrate on the 13th green after defeating the International team's Anirban Lahiri of India and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa 6&5 in Friday's four-ball match.PHOTO: AFP

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (AFP) - The United States were closing in on an historic Presidents Cup triumph over the International team on Saturday (Sept 30) with victories in the first two Saturday afternoon fourball matches.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed shook off a rules controversy to beat Internationals Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen 2 & 1 and Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger soon added a 3 & 2 win over world number three Hideki Matsuyama and Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas.

That took the Americans’ lead to 13.5 to 2.5 – two points away from the 15.5 needed to clinch the Cup.

The Americans headed into Saturday afternoon’s four fourball matches leading 11.5 to 2.5 and had a chance to seize the Cup before Sunday’s singles matches even start for the first time in history with a sweep.

The Americans were leading both remaining matches on the course.

Spieth and Reed triumphed despite Spieth’s hotly debated disqualification from the 12th hole.

Day had birdied the hole and when Oosthuizen’s eagle attempt from off the green raced past the cup, Spieth used his putter to pick up the still rolling ball.

That put the British Open champion afoul of the golf rule prohibiting influencing the movement of a ball in play, and Spieth was denied a chance to attempt his own 12-foot birdie putt to halve.

Even US captain’s assistant Tiger Woods got in on the heated exchange with the rules official on-scene.

But the 12th went to Day and Oosthuizen, who maintained their 1-up lead through the 14th.

The Americans wouldn’t be denied, however, winning three straight holes to close out the victory.

Thomas and Berger also battled back for a win. Matsuyama and Vegas were 3-up through four, but wouldn’t win another hole.

The US team captained by Steve Stricker set the stage on Saturday morning winning three morning foursomes and halving the fourth against an International team fighting for survival.

International captain Nick Price’s men had trailed by an unprecedented six points after the first two days, and and had just one win on the board through the first 16 matches.