MELBOURNE, Australia – Ryo Ishikawa and the rest of the International team built leads in five of the opening seven matches Sunday to keep alive slim hopes of a record-tying comeback in the Presidents Cup.
It didn’t take long for Jim Furyk, David Tom, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to shore up the back end of the lineup.
The Americans had a 13-9 lead going into the 12 singles matches Sunday, and needed to win five matches—there are no halves until the cup is decided—to win the cup for the fourth straight time.
Ishikawa was the only International player among the first three matches who trailed, and it wasn’t for long. He won the par-3 third hole with a bogey when Bubba Watson, needing two putts to win from the back of the green, putted it onto the fairway and made double bogey. Ishikawa was on his way to an easy win.
Adam Scott also was having as easy time, in large part because of his opponent. Phil Mickelson, undefeated in three matches this week, conceded the first three holes—Scott had 15-foot birdies on each of them—and conceded yet another hole on No. 8 to fall 4 down.
Mickelson bladed a chip from behind the first green and took two shots out of a bunker while trying to match Scott’s birdie. He came up just short on the third, with the Aussie crowd urging it to catch the slope and run back into the fairway.
Hunter Mahan gave the Americans by dominating Jason Day, who also struggled.
The International team was ahead in the opening four matches—which would eliminate the deficit if they won them all. But the Americans had comfortable leads in the last four matches, starting with Furyk.
Trying to become only the fourth player in Presidents Cup history to go 5-0 for the week, Furyk holed every big putt and took a 4-up lead over Ernie Els at the turn.
Toms was 4 up over Robert Allenby, who has lost more matches than anyone in the Presidents Cup and was on the verge of being shutout this week in his hometown of Melbourne.
Woods made consecutive birdies to build a 2-up lead over Aaron Baddeley.
The International team’s only win in the Presidents Cup came 13 years ago at Royal Melbourne.
The course was demanding for everyone. In mild temperatures, the wind already was up when the matches began. Such conditions made even 4-foot putts difficult to make, and the International team at least had a big crowd on its side. Some of the grandstands were full some two hours before the matches began.
Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)