U.S. continues strong performance
September 30, 2017
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Steve Stricker comments after Day 3 of the Presidents Cup
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Notes and observations from the third day at the Presidents Cup, where the U.S. Team very nearly clinched the Cup early. The Americans dominated morning Foursomes 3.5-.5, and won the afternoon Four-ball matches 3-1, and with a 14.5-3.5 lead they are just a point away from clinching the Cup going into the 12 singles matches.
For more from Liberty National, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
STRICKER: ‘I FEEL BAD FOR NICK’
The singles matches had been set, and the International Team had filed out of the room, walking out into the cold, blustery darkness and, perhaps, a night of gallows humor.
U.S. Team Captain Steve Stricker paused before following them and tried to explain how his team has rolled over the Internationals in the most lopsided four sessions in the history of the event.
“It’s an odd situation, isn’t it?” Stricker said. “It’s hard to even talk about it without sticking my foot in my mouth somewhere along the line, you know? They’re playing so well. We just got out of the way. We kept the pairings the same because they were rollin’, and they just kept playing well. It will be a strange day tomorrow.”
When Anirban Lahiri made two late birdies to give him and partner Si Woo Kim a 1-up win over Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman, it was the only thing keeping the Americans from clinching early, and only the second outright win for the Internationals in the first 18 matches. You had to wonder if a small part of Stricker wasn’t happy to finally see some fight in the Internationals, if in fact a small part of him hadn’t been feeling sorry for them.
“I guess maybe feeling sorry isn’t the right word, but you feel bad,” Stricker said. “I guess that’s the same as sorry. I just know some of their best players just aren’t quite playing the way they’re capable of playing. And then to have the momentum like we have, on our side, that can demoralize a team pretty quickly, and we’re kind of seeing that at times.
“I feel bad for Nick and the assistant captains and the whole team, really; they’ve been fightin’ and grindin’ and our guys have just been playin’ a little bit better.”
AMERICANS WIN LATE HOLES
If the long-hitting Americans were going to pick a nine to dominate on, you’d think they would pick the front, which features three par-5s. In fact, they’ve owned the back, which has none.
Of the four matches Saturday afternoon, the International Team led going into the back nine, or on the back nine itself, three times. They only won one of them.
“Some of those matches comin’ out early were always their way,” Stricker said. “A lot of those sessions. But our guys just fought back and flipped the matches, especially toward the end.”
Case in point: Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed were 1 down with four holes to play in their match against Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen, but birdied 15, 16 and 17 to win 2 and 1. Then again, Spieth and Reed, who each moved to 3-0-1, have come on strong on the back nine in all four of their matches.
“We've just made more putts,” Spieth said, trying to explain the lopsided score. “We've just played better golf. That's as simple as it is.
“Through 11 holes, if you look back, it's been pretty tight, and we've just been able to have that extra gear at the end that could have gone the other way just as easily, I guess. A little home-field advantage helps, and playing well at the right times; all of us have been playing well through the especially of the year.”
BERGER MAKES AQUA-BIRDIE
Things didn’t go well for Daniel Berger in his first Presidents Cup match on Thursday, when he and Brooks Koepka took what was the Americans’ only loss until Lahiri’s heroics.
Berger sat out the next two sessions, then got the call again to partner with Justin Thomas against Hideki Matsuyama and Jhonattan Vegas in Four-balls on Saturday afternoon. Berger made the most of it. He took off his shoes and rolled up his pant legs to wade into a lateral water hazard on the first hole, then decided to put the shoes back on before nearly holing his second shot, his ball trickling past the pin and stopping 7 inches behind the cup.
It would be one of Berger’s four birdies as he and Thomas beat Matsuyama and Vegas 3 and 2.
“The birdie on one was definitely nice, considering J.T. hit a quack-hook in the water,” Berger said. “Matsuyama was 3 feet for birdie, so it was nice to not be 1-down through one.
“We followed that up with three straight losses. That wasn't very nice. But we played really well. J.T. carried me when I wasn't playing well, and I carried him when he wasn't playing well, and that's kind of the thing that you need to do when you're in these team matches.”
STRICKER’S SESSION OBSESSION
In the team room Stricker has hammered away at the importance of winning every session, and he said he won’t let up just because the U.S. Team is throttling the Internationals.
“It won’t change their approach, either,” Stricker said. “I mean, we’re all competitors. When they get up there, they don’t want to get beat. I don’t care who it is. They’re here for a reason, they’ve had great seasons, and they don’t like to lose, bottom line. Nobody does.
“That won’t be any different. The mindset won’t be any different. And that’s what we’ve got to get across to them, not to get lax or lazy with the whole situation, to still come out and perform at the highest.”
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Charley Hoffman's dramatic chip-in is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
There are no words. pic.twitter.com/aNu2IYVmLF— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 30, 2017
U.S. Team selfies. 💯 pic.twitter.com/UP5VcXCOkM— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 30, 2017