MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)Capsules from Saturday’s matches at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne:
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, United States, def. Marc Leishman and Haotong Li, International, 3 and 2.
Thomas gave the Americans the lead for good with a birdie on the par-5 second hole. Li was in the trees and chipped out to the fairway, but he played out of turn. He had to replay the shot, clipped a tree and effectively was out of the hole. It was Li’s first match of the week, and outside of a birdie on the par-3 third, he wasn’t much help. Fowler made birdie on No. 5 to regain the lead, and the Americans never gave it back. Thomas remained undefeated for the week.
Sungjae Im and Abraham Ancer, International, def. Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, United States, 3 and 2.
The tone was set early when Ancer rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 3, and Schauffele had to make his 10-footer to halve the hole. They tied the opening seven holes, and then the Americans couldn’t make par on No. 8 for the first lead. Im’s birdie on the 10th extended the International lead to 2 up. Cantlay answered with a birdie on the 12th, only for Ancer to follow with a birdie two holes later. Ancer ended the match with a 25-foot birdie on the 16th, going to 3-0 for the week with three partners.
Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan, International, def. Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, United States, 5 and 3.
Matsuyama and Pan won again in fourballs and got little resistance against a Patrick Reed-Webb Simpson duo that lost all three times playing together. Pan opened with a 12-foot birdie, Matsuyama made birdie from the same distance on the next hole. Reed and Simpson didn’t put up much of a fight. The combined to make one birdie in fourballs, that from Simpson on the short 11th hole. In three partnerships, Simpson and Reed led after only one hole.
Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau, United States, halved with Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An.
The best match of the morning, neither team led by more than 1 hole the entire match. The Americans were poised to go 2 up on the eighth hole when Finau had an 8-foot birdie and Scott was 30 feet away. Scott made his putt, Finau missed, and the match was all square. The Internationals took the lead on the 15th hole when they appeared certain to lose. An was in trouble behind the trees and wound up making a 12-foot birdie putt as Finau and Kuchar both missed birdies from inside 8 feet. Finau made a 12-foot birdie putt to halve the 17th and extend the match, and a 6-foot birdie putt to win the 18th hole and escape with a halve.
Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland, United States, def. Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott, International, 2 and 1.
Dustin Johnson finally got his first point in these matches as he and Woodland had par or better on all but two holes. They won two straight holes on the front nine to go from 1 down to 1 up, only to bogey the 10th for the International team to tie. Johnson holed an 8-foot birdie on the 11th to regain the lead, and Woodland followed with a 10-footer on the next hole to go 2 up. Woodland left a tough shot in the bunker on the 16th hole to give Scott and Oosthuizen hope, but that hope ended with a bogey on the 17th hole for the U.S. win.
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, United States, halved with Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer.
In a match that featured the only players at 3-0 – Thomas and Ancer – this looked like the biggest blowout of the week. The Americans build a 4-up lead through five as Leishman and Ancer made three bogeys. The lead remained 5 up through 11 holes when the International made two straight birdies. Down to their last shots, Ancer made a 20-foot birdie on the 15th to assure the match would be extended. Leishman made an 18-footer for par, and Fowler missed from 6 feet, and the U.S. lead was 2 up with two to play. Thomas missed a 10-footer for par to win the match on the 17th. And then Thomas hit a tee shot under a tree. Fowler could only pitch out, and Leishman stuffed his approach for a birdie that was conceded.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, United States, def. Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im, International, 2 and 1.
The Americans quickly fell 3 down through five holes as Smith and Im opened with two birdies. Cantlay warmed to the task with key putts that led to three straight birdies to square the match. They traded holes after the turn, and the Americans took their first lead when Smith badly misjudged a long birdie putt that went 18 feet by the hole, leading to bogey. Schauffele’s tee shot on the par-5 15th set up a birdie for a 2-up lead, and they halved the next two holes.
Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau, United States, halved with Byeong Hun An and Joaquin Niemann, International.
The Americans never trailed from a birdie on the opening hole. They didn’t win, either. The International rookies were never more than 2 down, but time was running out. With five holes to play, Kuchar hit into a bunker on the par-3 14th, and Finau sent the sand shot 20 feet long. On the next hole, Finau drove wildly, and the International team made birdie to square the match. On the final hole, Niemann hit his approach to 6 feet. Kuchar missed his birdie try from 12 feet, but An’s birdie putt for the win stayed left.
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