THE PRESIDENTS CUP
Presidents Cup: Morning match previews for Day 3
December 13, 2019
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- December 13, 2019
All-time shots from the Presidents Cup
MELBOURNE, Australia – The International team maintained their healthy three point advantage after the second session of the Presidents Cup but it was the U.S. team who claimed they have the momentum heading to the weekend.
At one point on Friday the Internationals led all five matches out on Royal Melbourne before a late U.S. team fightback pulled the session back to 2.5-2.5. As such the Internationals take a 6.5-3.5 lead into Saturday, their first lead through two sessions since 2005.
Saturday brings four morning Four-Ball matches before four afternoon Foursomes matches.
“At one point … it looked pretty bleak, but the guys turned it around,” U.S. Captain Tiger Woods said.
“They played phenomenal coming in. It was important for us to end the way we did and it totally changed the last hour.”
Els was happy with the session despite the late fade as the Internationals notoriously struggle in Foursomes and now still haven’t won a session in the format since 2005.
“Look at the record we've had in the Foursomes the last 25 years … so for us to come out 2.5-2.5 in the session is like a win for us. We would have taken that at the start of the day,” Els said.
Here’s a look at each morning match, along with our staff predictions from onsite writers Ben Everill and Mike McAllister.
MARC LEISHMAN/HAOTONG LI (INTERNATIONAL) vs. JUSTIN THOMAS/RICKIE FOWLER (USA)
Overview: Leishman bounced back from a heavy Thursday loss to join Abraham Ancer in a decisive win over Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson on Friday. He gets his third different partner on Saturday with Li from China. Li is the only player in the competition who sat both opening sessions and will make his long-awaited Presidents Cup debut. Thomas has been a U.S. superhero going 2-0 with Tiger Woods thus far but now he gets Fowler who was instrumental in coming back from the brink with Gary Woodland to earn a half over Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im in Foursomes.
Player records: Leishman (4-8-3 overall, 0-5-0 in Four-Ball), Li (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 in Four-Ball); Thomas (5-1-1 overall, 3-0-0 in Four-Ball); Fowler (4-3-2 overall, 1-1-0 in Four-Ball).
Ben Everill’s prediction: Tied. Leishman will guide Li around the track and gain a little bit of revenge over the so far flawless Thomas.
Mike McAllister’s prediction: USA, 3 and 2. Thomas and Fowler are a proven team, and Li may be nervous in his first match of the week.
SUNGJAE IM/ABRAHAM ANCER (INTERNATIONAL) vs. XANDER SCHAUFFELE/PATRICK CANTLAY (USA)
Overview: The U.S. pair came up clutch on the 18th on Friday, with Cantlay making a huge putt to clinch a point for the U.S over Adam Hadwin and Joaquin Niemann. The pair lost on the opening day to Im and Hadwin so there will be a little sense of revenge on their minds. Im has yet to taste defeat in his Presidents Cup debut with the win Thursday and tie on Friday with Cameron Smith over Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland. Ancer has been a machine, winning 4 and 3 on Thursday (with Louis Oosthuizen) and 3 and 2 on Friday (with Marc Leishman). He will look to continue his form throughout having shown an affinity for Australian conditions.
Player records: Im (1-0-1 overall, 1-0-0 in Four-Ball), Ancer (2-0-0 overall; 1-0-0 in Four-Ball); Schauffele (1-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 in Four-Ball); Cantlay (1-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 in Four-Ball).
Ben Everill’s prediction: Internationals 2up. This two flushers have been brilliant so far and I don’t see any reason for that to stop.
Mike McAllister’s prediction: Tie. All four players have had their moments this week.
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA/C.T. PAN (INTERNATIONAL) vs. PATRICK REED/WEBB SIMPSON (USA)
Overview: Captain Tiger Woods surprised a few people by once again sending out Reed and Simpson together after they’ve gone 0-2 over the opening two days. They were beaten in this exact match up on Thursday when Matsuyama and Pan prevailed 1 up and then fell heavily on Friday with a 3 and 2 defeat to Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer. “They have played well. Unfortunately they just haven't won points,” Woods said of his duo. “They have done all the little things right. It's just a matter of having things go your way, and that's part of playing these team sessions. A putt here, a shot here or there, or you just get outplayed, it happens. They are excited about being with one another, and they have handled everything extremely well.” Matsuyama, with Byeong Hun An, fell to Woods and Justin Thomas on Friday while Pan is rested having sat out since the Thursday’s win.
Player records: Matsuyama (5-7-3 overall, 1-0-0 in Four-Ball), Pan (1-0-0 overall; 1-0-0 in Four-Ball); Reed (4-5-2 overall, 2-1-1 in Four-Ball); Simpson (5-5-2 overall, 2-2-1 in Four-Ball).
Ben Everill’s prediction: Internationals 1up. They managed the win on Thursday over this pair and will be confident they can do it again. The pressure is on the U.S. pair who might press a little too hard.
Mike McAllister’s prediction: International, 1 up. Same score – and same result – as the first day.
ADAM SCOTT/BYEONG HUN AN (INTERNATIONAL) vs. MATT KUCHAR/TONY FINAU (USA)
Overview: Scott and An won their Four-Balls match on Thursday, beating Finau and Bryson DeChambeau, 2 and 1. Finau, who sat out the Foursomes session on Friday, gets a chance at revenge now with a different partner. Scott and An covered each other well on Day 1, and An appreciated partnering the Internationals’ most experienced player. Finau will be the sixth different partner that Kuchar has had in his Presidents Cup career.
Player records: Scott Kuchar (6-9-2 overall; 3-1-0 in Four-Balls); Finau (0-1-0 overall: 0-1-0 in Four-Balls).
Ben Everill’s prediction: Internationals 1up. This will be a squeaker with four players who have shown some good form at times over the first two days but the crowd will lift Scott home - particularly with Woods not out on the course.
Mike McAllister’s prediction: Internationals, 2 and 1. Scott seems on a mission this week.
SITTING OUT: Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, Joaquin Niemann (Internationals); Tiger Woods, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
Woods is sitting out the morning session after winning his first two matches with partner Justin Thomas, but he’s given JT a familiar partner with Rickie Fowler. “That was kind of the game plan,” Woods said. “It would be hard for me to go all the sessions. I've been fortunate enough to go out there with J.T. and we've gotten two points.” Will be interesting to see if Woods goes back out for Saturday afternoon Foursomes.
Oosthuizen is also sitting out after winning his first two matches (with Abraham Ancer on Thursday and Adam Scott on Friday).