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AFP
December 14, 2019

Woods keeps US in the hunt in Presidents Cup

Sports

AFP
December 14, 2019

MELBOURNE: The US team staged a stirring late comeback to stay in the hunt at the Presidents Cup on Friday after the tournament appeared to be slipping away, with Tiger Woods hailing their “phenomenal” spirit.

The US went into the alternate shot or foursomes format on day two trailing 4-1, after Ernie Els’ Internationals enjoyed their best start to the biennial matchplay event since 2005.

They ended it 6.5-3.5 behind after clawing back against Els’ young unit, who had looked to be closing on the Internationals’ first victory since their only title in 1998. At one point the Internationals were in firm control, but Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay both drilled huge putts on the 18th to clinch narrow victories for a US team that desperately needed points, with playing-captain Woods leading wild celebrations.

The pulsating day ended with the points split — two wins each and one tie.

With 30 points at stake over the week, the Internationals need another nine from Saturday’s eight matches and the 12 singles on Sunday for a famous victory.

The omens looked good for the Internationals in a heavyweight opening clash that pitted former world number one Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar against the experienced Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott.

They started well, clinching the opening hole. Oosthuizen then missed a simple putt to hand the US a two-up lead by the fifth, before the International pair began clicking to win the sixth and eighth.

They turned the screws as the crowd roared them on to win at the 11th, 13th and 14th and whip the dejected Americans 3 and 2.

Behind them Canada’s Adam Hadwin gave his team a lead on the first hole after a beautiful approach shot from young Chilean Joaquin Niemann against Xander Schauffele and Cantlay.

In a see-sawing tie, the advantage kept changing hands before Cantlay stepped up to sink a massive putt on the last to get the US team on the scoreboard.

Inspired, Woods and Thomas, the only US pair to win on Thursday, matched the exploits.

Woods missed a birdie putt on the first but found his range and they raced two-up through five against Hideki Matsuyama and An Byeong-hun, before the Internationals incredibly won three in a row. The tight match went to the wire where Thomas held his nerve to drain a long putt to secure the point, with Woods fist-pumping and hugging his teammate. Patrick Reed was met with boos again after his penalty for improving his lie in the Bahamas last week.