By Jim SLATER
Max Homa sank a dramatic 11-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole Friday to deliver an emotional victory that gave the United States a record-tying 8-2 lead at the Presidents Cup.
The Americans won three four-ball (best-ball) matches over the Internationals and tied two more at Quail Hollow to equal the 2017 team for the largest US edge after two sessions in Presidents Cup history.
“Back’s up against the wall. Going to have to dig deep,” Internationals captain Trevor Immelman said. “But it’s going to have to start with making some putts for sure.”
The Americans could reclaim the Cup with 7.5 points from Saturday’s four foursomes (alternate shot) and four fourball matches before Sunday’s 12 concluding singles matches.
“There’s a whole lot of points left,” US captain Davis Love said. “We’re not sitting there going, ‘OK, this is great.’
“We’ve seen a lot of big leads lost. We’re going to try to be motivated and not really talk about the outcome till the end.”
Two US duos, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele plus Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, won for the second time in as many days, but it was Homa that provided the heroics.
Homa, who won his first PGA title at Quail Hollow in 2019, joined Billy Horschel in a 1-up victory over Canadians Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith in the day’s final match.
Conners made birdie putts of six feet at the 11th and 22 feet at the 13th to lift the Canadians level, but Homa sank a 13-foot birdie putt to win the 17th and put the US 1-up.
At the 18th, Pendrith, who missed a 10-foot par putt at 18 to lose Thursday, sank a 13-foot birdie putt to give the Internationals a chance for half a point.
But Homa followed moments later with his intense birdie putt to tie the hole and win the match, pumping his fist as the putt fell and bumping chests with teammates to celebrate.
“This is insane,” Homa said. “It has come down to the 18th for me two days in a row. To have the opportunity to do it was amazing.
“It’s something I’ll never forget.”
The Americans, seeking a ninth consecutive victory, lead the all-time rivalry 11-1-1 and have never lost on home soil.
This year’s US team boasts 10 of the world’s 16 top-ranked players while the Internationals were decimated by several top players jumping from the PGA to LIV Golf to become ineligible.
The Internationals have pushed eight of 10 matches into the last two holes but still have been unable to deny an overwhelming US squad.
– ‘Quite a sight’ –
Three-time major winner Spieth and two-time major champion Justin Thomas edged Australians Adam Scott and Cam Davis 2&1, with Spieth making several key putts.
“Jordan is starting to feel it with his putter and it’s quite a sight to see,” Thomas said.
Spieth birdied 11 and 12 to tie the holes and Thomas made a 3-footer to birdie and win the par-3 14th for a 3-up lead.
Davis birdied 16 but Spieth sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th to seal victory.
“It wasn’t exactly what I was trying to do but it was the right line,” Spieth said. “Once I got my speed control, I got it rolling.”
Tokyo Olympic champion Schauffele and 2021 PGA playoff winner Cantlay, defeated Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and South Korea’s Kim Joo-hyung 3&2.
The US duo led 5-up after eight holes but Kim, who ripped two pairs of pants warming up but quickly got a third, won 14 and 15 with birdies but Schauffele parred 16 for the triumph.
Top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns never trailed but blew a late lead for the second straight day in tying South Korea’s Im Sung-jae and Colombian Sebastian Munoz.
In a match where neither team was more than 1-up, Americans Cameron Young and Kevin Kisner tied Chile’s Mito Pereira and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout. — Agence France-Presse