CHARLOTTE — The United States team started Saturday’s third round of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in a position with the opportunity to score enough points to win, making Sunday’s matches inconsequential.
To accomplish this feat the Americans would need to win seven of eight matches outright and, at a minimum, tie the eighth match.
But the International team came out ready to put up a fight.
Though it was the earliest of the tee times in the competition, you wouldn’t have known it by the crowds ready to enter at the gates around 6 a.m.. In the darkness of the morning, fans could be heard chanting “U-S-A” while waiting for gates to open. By 7:12 competitors were welcomed to cheers at the packed-out first-tee stadium.
After the previous two days, the International team had only managed to win one out of the 10 matches played, with the United States team showing dominance from the top of their roster to the bottom.
Saturday morning was a line in the sand for the Internationals. To have any chance to have a shot at a massive comeback, they would need a strong start to their day.
The Internationals lead-off group — featuring Sunjae Im and Corey Conners — started off on the right foot, winning the second hole and taking a 1-up lead on American powerhouse duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
That point would be one of only two the International duo would secure before Spieth and Thomas would overtake them and end the match on the 15th hole 4 and 3.
International veterans Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama showed their experience with a come-from-behind win against American Presidents Cup rookies Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.
The Americans would jump out to a quick 2-up lead before losing five holes straight to the Internationals winning their match 3 and 2.
International rookies Tom Kim and K.H Lee of the International side won a hard-fought back-and-forth match against fellow rookies Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns.
The three-hole “green mile” stretch lived up to its reputation, with points being traded on each hole when the internationals’ K.H. Lee drained a long breaking putt for birdie on the 15th hole to pull away from the Americans before winning the next hole and eventually tying the Americans on the 17th hole to win their match 2+1.
Tony Finau and Max Homa of the United States team would never let Internationals Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis into their final pairing match. Homa and Finau played well, racking up four birdies and never letting the International team back in the match en route to winning their match 4 and 3.