The US strike a killer blow

The US struck a killer blow in the Presidents Cup when they thumped the Internationals 4-1 in Saturday’s foursomes.

The United States almost certainly struck the killer blow in the 9th Presidents Cup when they thumped the Internationals 4-1 in Saturday’s morning’s second round of foursomes.

By once again dominating the event’s alternative-shot format that has been one their great strengths in a two-yearly battle they have only lost once, the Americans took their overnight lead of 7-5 into what looked to be an uncatchable 11-6 total heading into the afternoon’s second round of fourballs at a wet and drizzly Royal Melbourne Golf Course.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson looked every bit as good in the wet as they were in Friday’s searing wind, and remained invincible as they charged into a 3&2 victory over the all-Australian pairing of Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy in the first of the morning’s five matches.

Their third win in three first-up matches at this tournament, continued their dream debut as the local knowledge of all their rivals of Royal Melbourne’s famed sand belt greens made not a jot of a difference.

“They are two unbelievable kids,” US captain Fred Couples said of them.

“I’m very, very proud of them and happy for them … They just are very good together and it’s kind of fun to watch.”

The pair have a chance to match Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker’s record 4-0 partnership from the 2009 Cup in San Francisco against Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel in the four-ball matches later on Saturday.

The South Africans, who won their four-ball match on Friday, were thrashed 5&4 in the foursomes by Hunter Mahan and David Toms.

Ryo Ishikawa provided a rare bright patch on a gloomy morning for the Internationals with some brilliant clutch putting late in his match with Ernie Els to salvage a point against Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar.

The 20-year-old Japanese 20-year-old cooly rolled in a four-foot par putt on the 16th to put himself and the ‘Big Easy’ one-up, then had the galleries roaring when he nailed a 14-footer to keep the lead on the 17th.

He finished off with an icy five-foot putt at the last to seal the win and give he and Els’ a breakthrough victory after two straight losses to Watson and Simpson in their opening matches.

“The man’s got so much heart, I could see it even in our first two matches,” Els said in a greenside TV interview. “I could see Ryo was finding his feet on the golf course … Today he played unbelievable.

“His putting reminds me a little of myself back in the day … I’m so glad to have played with him.”

Ironically Ishikawa’s reward will be to follow his team-mates as a spectator in the afternoon fourballs matches, Norman having decided on the pairings before the young Japanese ran into his hot putting streak.

Woods finally broke his winning drought at this tournament. In tandem with Dustin Johnson they downed Tiger and Steve Stricker’s first round tormentors Adam Scott and KJ Choi 3&2, before a buoyant Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk grabbed their third successive win with a 2&1 victory over another of the Internationals previously unbeaten Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day.

Mickelson, whose putting has plagued him throughout the event, rolled home a monster putt on the 17th to clinch their victory.

Mickelson, along with the other ‘veteran’ in the US team, Toms, will be rested for the final four-ball matches.

“Phil wanted to sit (out) from the beginning. He wanted to be fresh for tomorrow,” Couples explained. “Yesterday was a grind.”

A disappointed Norman had planned for his team to pick up at least half a point on the Americans after the morning foursomes, but was left staring at defeat in his second successive stint as the International captain – and this on a course where the US previously suffered their only defeat.

Seems the pressure has been a bit much.

“The guys have got get out and play a little bit looser than they have this morning,” the Australian said.