Presidents Cup: Can the International team pull off a Quail Mary and upset the Americans?

CHARLOTTE – The fat lady was warming up and it was only Friday evening of the 2022 Presidents Cup.

That is until 20-year-old Tom Kim, doing his best Ian Poulter imitation, led a spirited charge as the International team outscored the Americans in a two-session day for the first time since 1998.

“We were in a deep hole,” International team Captain Trevor Immelman said, “and we dug deep.”

The putts started to drop for the International side, none bigger than the 10-foot birdie putt on 18 at Quail Hollow Club by Kim to beat the U.S. team of Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, and cut the deficit to 11-7 going into Sunday’s singles session.

“We got to refocus, and we’ve got a lot of pissed off guys that want to come out really strong tomorrow,” said Jordan Spieth.

“Guess I’d be one of those pissed off guys,” Schauffele, who was seated next to Spieth said.

Spieth and Thomas won the lone four-ball match of the afternoon session to stretch the U.S. lead to 11-4 before the International side captured the final three points up for grabs. It was shades of the 2012 Ryder Cup when Europe staged a furious rally on Saturday to set up a comeback dubbed the Miracle at Medinah – from four points behind. As if that isn’t enough of a coincidence, the U.S. captain that year was none other than Love.

“Four points is four points. It’s been a big number,” Love said. “I’ve been four behind before too, you know. We’ve been four ahead, four behind. We’ve watched the Solheim Cup be four ahead. So it’s a magical number.”

If the Internationals are to complete the biggest comeback in the event’s 28-year history and win on American soil for the first time, they’ll need to claim 8½ of the 12 points up for grabs.

Love has stacked his Sunday singles lineup with big names going out early: Justin Thomas in the leadoff spot followed by Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns, Patrick Cantlay and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

Speaking on Golf Channel’s Live From, Paul McGinley said, “it’s very important that they don’t leak any more oil. Then the pressure flips onto America in front of the home crowd. Every one of us thought here thought this was over yesterday.”

Despite playing on foreign soil and being outmanned and missing the likes of Cameron Smith, Immelman has molded a team that took his mantra of playing with freedom to heart. Immelman’s lineup is a bit more eclectic and surprisingly left the team’s Energizer Bunny, Kim, to the 10th match rather than send him out early to provide another spark.

“We have our system, and we try and run it,” Immelman explained. “If we’re 10 up or 10 down, we run our system, and we see what happens.”

Australian Adam Scott, who is competing in his 10th Presidents Cup, liked what he saw on Saturday. It was the future of a team that even if it doesn’t pull off an unlikely upset could be the core for years to come, including someday when he’ll be calling the shots. Saturday’s rally is a day that he’ll not soon forget.

“I think over the course of my career in this, there hasn’t been many times I’ve felt momentum going our way,” he said. “And today, we had the momentum. We certainly have it finishing this evening, and it will be great if we could keep it rolling tomorrow.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek