THE PRESIDENTS CUP
Late rally leaves International Team a chance for Presidents Cup upsetU.S. Team will go into Sunday Singles ahead 11-7
September 24, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
Cam Davis' dramatic closing birdie on No. 18 wins the match at Presidents Cup
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The underdog International Team isn’t dead yet.
Although they went into the Saturday afternoon Four-ball matches trailing 10-4, the International Team won two squeakers to win the session 3-1 and cut the U.S. Team’s lead to 11-7.
“Today was a great day,” said Adam Scott, whose partner Cam Davis finished eagle-birdie-birdie as the International Team’s anchor duo edged Billy Horschel and Sam Burns, 1 up. “We were in a deep hole coming here on the bus ride this morning and all the boys dug really deep.”
Added Davis, of the last three holes, “I kind of went numb, to be honest.”
The Presidents Cup will conclude with 12 Singles matches at Quail Hollow Club on Sunday, and the U.S. Team needs 4 1/2 points to win the Cup. The International Team needs 8 1/2. A tie would result in the teams sharing the Cup.
No team has ever overcome more than a 2-point deficit on the final day in the Presidents Cup. But in the Ryder Cup, which also features 12 Singles matches, two teams have overcome 4-point deficits: the U.S. in 1999 and Europe in 2012.
Victory by the Australians Davis and his boyhood hero Scott came after Tom Kim birdied the 18th hole as he and Si Woo Kim beat the previously unbeaten Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. The International Team suddenly had life and celebrated accordingly.
“I wanted it to go in more than anything in the world,” Tom Kim said of his 10-footer on 18.
The U.S. Team is vying to run its record to 12-1-1 since the Presidents Cup began in 1994.
The Internationals hope to break a run of U.S. dominance and win on the road for the first time.
The U.S. Team did the bulk of the heavy lifting in the first two rounds, going 4-1 on both Thursday and Friday to run out to an 8-2 lead. Severely out-putted for the first two days, the International Team needed to start figuring out the greens Saturday, when eight points – four Foursomes, four Four-ball – were up for grabs. The two sides split the morning Foursomes 2-2.
Finally, with time running out, the International Team found its mojo, winning the Four-ball 3-1.
Sebastian Muñoz made six birdies in his and Sungjae Im’s 3-and-2 win over Tony Finau and Kevin Kisner. In the group ahead, Jordan Spieth also made six birdies in his and Justin Thomas’ 4-and-3 win over Hideki Matsuyama and Taylor Pendrith. The final was a chip-in on 15 – traditionally the closing hole at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship – that ended the match.
The two matches effectively canceled each other out, which was not what the International Team needed. And with the U.S. Team nursing back-nine leads in the other two matches it looked like only two questions remained: How decisively would the heavily favored U.S. Team win? And who would score the clinching point Sunday?
But then came the late heroics of Si Woo Kim (birdie on 16 to pull even) and Tom Kim (curling left-to-right 10-footer for birdie on 18), setting off pandemonium on the International Team. To beat the seemingly impenetrable Cantlay/Schauffele pairing was one thing, but the fact that it was Tom “The Tank Engine” Kim was especially fitting.
Kim, who shot a final-round 61 to win the Wyndham Championship last month, is only 20 but is already the heart and soul of the Internationals. Earlier Saturday, he delivered rousing eagle putts at the driveable 11th hole – once with partner K.H. Lee in a 2-and-1 win over Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns on Saturday morning, once with partner Si Woo Kim in the afternoon.
Both times, Kim’s celebration was wildly entertaining, even to fans of the U.S. Team.
“In tournaments I would never, ever shout this loud or go this crazy,” said Kim, one of four International players (with Scott, Im, and Hideki Matsuyama) who will play all five matches. “But I’m just trying to bring some good energy to the team. … We’re behind a little bit, so I’m just trying to bring positive vibes and try to get the team going and just give momentum.”
How much that momentum will mean Sunday remains to be seen. Burns and the undefeated Thomas and Spieth will play all five matches for the U.S. Team. Will they be tired? Will it matter that they went into the night with a slightly bitter taste? Saturday’s finish was reminiscent of the 2012 Ryder Cup, where Love also was the captain of the U.S. Team. The Europeans rallied late Saturday to pull within four, then authored a record-setting comeback in Sunday singles. Many members of this U.S. Team were in college, or younger, when that happened. No one on this year’s team was at Medinah.
That’s one reason Love’s team has the big picture in mind as it looks to Sunday.
“It was a good day, a long day,” said Thomas, who ran his career Presidents Cup record to 10-2-2. “Obviously, we're bummed with how the afternoon session finished and how it went. But I think Jordan said it best when we were driving back. It’s just, I think you can easily forget what’s going on, what the score is, just because of how a day ends and how it finishes.
“We’re still leading the Presidents Cup,” Thomas continued, “and we’re in great position to win tomorrow, so we all just got to put our heads down and get after it.”