The U.S. team looked set to produce a huge comeback late Saturday at the Presidents Cup before some late International heroics preserved a 10-8 lead heading to Sunday Singles at Royal Melbourne.
Staring down the barrel of a clean sweep in the afternoon Foursomes at the hands of a rampant U.S. team, Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer fashioned an incredible comeback to tie their match against Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.
Sitting five down through 10 holes, the International duo came home with a flurry – including winning the last three holes.
Byeong Hun An and Joaquin Niemann also pulled out a late tie against Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau, which could have been a win had An made a six-footer at the last.
The Internationals still haven’t won a Foursomes session since 2005, but they take a lead to Singles for the first time since 2003.
Earlier, the Internationals opened up a 9-5 lead following the morning Four-Ball session which they won 2.5-1.5.
However, the scoreboard only tells part of the tale. The villain of the piece, Patrick Reed took centre stage on Friday once more when Captain America’s caddie, Kessler Karain took exception to some heckling that got out of hand from the gallery directed towards his charge.
The caddie admitted to shoving a boisterous patron in a heated exchange and has been stood down from the final day’s singles action as a result of the altercation. Although Reed accepted the punishment, his Captain, Tiger Woods was quick to criticise the antics of the crowd in the aftermath of the disagreement.
“There’s obviously some yelling,” Woods said. “There’s people who have had a lot to drink and have gone over the top.
“Bipartisanship is part of playing in team matches, whether you’re home or on the road; it’s part of the deal. As long as, you know, the fans are respectful, and that’s all we ask is for them to be respectful, and hopefully they will be excited tomorrow and into the matches and be very respectful of all the players.
“Have people said things that have been over the top? Yes. I’ve heard it. I’ve been in the groups playing when it has happened, and I’ve been inside the ropes as a captain today witnessing it.
“As I said, all I ask for all the galleries is be excited but be respectful of the players, all 24 of us.”
Woods’ opposite number, Ernie Els was less surprised with the reaction of the crowd given the history of the high-fuelled rivalry.
“I’ve played in many Presidents Cups. I’ve played in the U.S. many times. If you look back at New York and how these players were treated in New York, this crowd is pretty quiet,” Els said.
“I mean, we just get treated the same wherever you go as an away game, there’s some heckling going on and we all know that, and you prepare for that, and that’s just the way it goes.
“We shut up and we get on with things. That’s what we did in New York. So it’s part of the game. And I’m with Tiger; I absolutely, I’m against heckling. I’m against crowds being disrespectful to the players, but it happens. We as professionals, we move on.
“I think Tiger is one of the ultimate professionals that’s ever played the game. I’ve played with him where he’s been heckled in U.S. Opens and a lot of other places. He’s taken it on the chin and he’s moved forward. He’s been an example.
“Same has happened to me. It’s happened to a lot of players. But I must say, this Aussie crowd, okay, they got a little bit boisterous this afternoon with a couple of beers, but which crowd doesn’t. You take it and you move on.”
Els’ International Team is seeking its first Presidents Cup victory since winning at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 1998
Full scoring HERE
Final Round (Sunday) – Singles
Match 19 (10:02 a.m.) – Abraham Ancer (INT) vs. Tiger Woods (U.S.)
Match 20 (10:13 a.m.) – Hideki Matsuyama (INT) vs. Tony Finau (U.S.)
Match 21 (10:24 a.m.) – C.T. Pan (INT) vs. Patrick Reed (U.S.)
Match 22 (10:35 a.m.) – Haotong Li (INT) vs. Dustin Johnson (U.S.)
Match 23 (10:46 a.m.) – Adam Hadwin (INT) vs. Bryson DeChambeau (U.S.)
Match 24 (10:57 a.m.) – Sungjae Im (INT) vs. Gary Woodland (U.S.)
Match 25 (11:08 a.m.) – Joaquin Niemann (INT) vs. Patrick Cantlay (U.S.)
Match 26 (11:19 a.m.) – Adam Scott (INT) vs. Xander Schauffele (U.S.)
Match 27 (11:30 a.m.) – Byeong Hun An (INT) vs. Webb Simpson (U.S.)
Match 28 (11:41 a.m.) – Cameron Smith (INT) vs. Justin Thomas (U.S.)
Match 29 (11:52 a.m.) – Louis Oosthuizen (INT) vs. Matt Kuchar (U.S.)
Match 30 (12:03 p.m.) – Marc Leishman (INT) vs. Rickie Fowler (U.S.)