Presidents Cup: Usual suspects help Americans extend lead over Internationals after Friday four-ball session

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The usual suspects for the Americans got the job done in convincing fashion on Friday at the 2022 Presidents Cup, but the Internationals didn’t go down without a fight.

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas continued their impressive partnership with a 2-and-1 win over Australians Adam Scott and Cam Davis to give the Americans the first point of the day at Quail Hollow Club. And speaking of unbeatable duos, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele won yet again on Friday, taking down Hideki Matsuyama and Tom Kim, 3 and 2.

They weren’t wins, but the International pairings of Sungjae Im-Sebastian Munoz and Mito Pereira-Christiaan Bezuidenhout picked up a clutch point with a pair of ties in the second and third matches of the day, while Max Homa and Billy Horschel sealed the deal on the 18th for the Americans to win the session, 4-1, and extend their overall lead to 8-2.

Here’s a breakdown of each match on Day 2 at the 2022 Presidents Cup.

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Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Adam Scott-Cam Davis (Intl.), 2 and 1

Spieth and Thomas love playing together, and it showed once again on Friday. Matched up against the International Aussie duo of veteran Adam Scott and rookie Cam Davis, the Americans tied the first three holes before a back-and-forth birdie best in the middle of the round. Thomas picked up a pair of wins with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5, then Spieth followed suit on Nos. 7 and 8. The Internationals won the ninth to cut the U.S. lead to 2 up at the turn and matched their birdie efforts over the next three holes to keep the match close.

Thomas, who struggled on the back nine, got back on track with a clutch birdie on the par-3 14th to take a 3-up lead with four to play. Davis hit a 378-yard drive on the par-5 16th to earn birdie and briefly bring the match back to 2-up before Spieth closed the door on the 17th to win, 2 and 1. — Woodard

2022 Presidents Cup
2022 Presidents Cup

Team USA golfer Jordan Spieth celebrates after making his putt on the 12th green during the four-ball match play of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. (Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

Scottie Scheffler-Sam Burns (U.S.) tie Sungjae Im-Sebastian Munoz (Intl.)

Scheffler and Burns were the lone American team to lose on Thursday (2 down to Si Woo Kim and Davis) after blowing a 2-up lead through 14 holes. It looked like more of the same was destined on Friday. Like the first match of the day, this one remained tied through the first four holes before the Americans won with birdie on the par-4 5th.

Both teams traded victories for the next three holes before Burns claimed Nos. 9 and 10 to take a 2-up lead, which the Americans held until the 13th by matching the International birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. The deficit was cut to one thanks to Munoz’s third straight birdie on the 13th and remained as such thanks to three more consecutive birdies, this time courtesy of Im. And yes, if you’re keeping track at home, that means six straight holes were tied with birdie. How’s that for match play?

A pair of American bogeys on the 17th opened the door for the Internationals to tie the match with par heading to the 18th, where Scheffler had a birdie putt to win the match from 9 feet. Unfortunately for the Americans, the putt rolled 8 feet, 11¾ inches and stopped on the edge, leaving Scheffler to tap in for par. That left Im with a three-footer to tie the match and earn a half point the International side desperately needed (though it may be too little, too late). — Woodard

2022 Presidents Cup
2022 Presidents Cup

International Team golfer Sebastian Munoz celebrates after making his putt on the fourth hole during the four-ball match play of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)

Mito Pereira-Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Intl.) tie Kevin Kisner-Cam Young (U.S.)

The Americans Kisner and Young faced a tough foe in Bezuidenhout and Pereira, and the match ended in a tie. It was a back-and-forth affair with the Internationals taking the lead initially with a Bezuidenhout birdie to win the third only for the American side to respond with a birdie of its own a hole later. Young gave the Americans its first lead of the day at No. 7 stuffing his second at the par-5 inside 6 feet and making eagle. Bezuidenhout tied it again with a birdie at the ninth.

Pereira of Chile warmed up on the back nine, rolling in three straight birdies starting at No. 10, which gave his team a 1-up lead. The U.S. squared the match with a par at 14. The final four holes were tied, with Young having a 25-foot putt slide by for the win.

“I think about halfway there, it looked pretty good, and then it just rolled by,” Young said. “I hit a good putt.”

The putters were especially cool on the back nine, where Kisner managed just two birdies and Young one.

“I didn’t have my game, and I was riding Cameron pretty hard there, trying to pitch in where I could fit in,” Kisner said. “We just didn’t make any putts all day to really gain the momentum and keep it rolling. They made a few to keep them alive. If we had putted better, I think we’d have a different result.” — Schupak

2022 Presidents Cup
2022 Presidents Cup

Team USA golfer Cameron Young hits out of the bunker on the fifth hole during the four-ball match play of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. (Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)

Patrick Cantlay-Xander Schauffele (U.S.) def. Hideki Matsuyama-Tom Kim (Intl.), 3 and 2

Tom Kim ripped his pants before the start of this four-ball match and then the U.S. side of Cantlay and Schauffele ripped Kim and Matsuyama a new one – storming out to a 5-up lead through seven holes and coasting to a 3-and-2 victory.

“I think hot starts are really big to match play to get the momentum on your side and force opponents to do something to catch back up. As opposed to when it’s close, you’re not pressing as much,” Cantlay said.

During a five-hole stretch beginning at No. 3, Schauffele made four birdies and Cantlay a birdie and an eagle at No. 7 while Matsuyama made just one birdie all day and Kim didn’t make his first birdie until No. 12. The 20-year-old Korean did make the defeat more palatable by winning Nos. 14 and 15, but this match never felt competitive.

“We played really well,” said Cantlay. “When you get out to a lead like that, you kind of just tell yourself it’s inevitable. Keep hitting quality shots to close it out.”

It also marked the first four-ball match victory with Schauffele.

“It is nice to get the monkey off our back,” Canltay said. “Hopefully we can get a bunch more wins in this format.” — Schupak

Billy Horschel-Max Homa (U.S.) def. Corey Conners-Taylor Pendrith (Intl.), 1 up

Horschel waited a long time to make his international team competition debut in the pro ranks. It was worth the wait.

The 35-year-old partnered with Homa for a 1-up victory over Conners and Pendrith in the final match of the day.

Homa came up huge, canning a 13-foot birdie putt at 17 to give the U.S. a 1-up lead. But Pendrith holed a 13-foot birdie putt of his own at 18, forcing Homa to make one more birdie to secure a full point. He delivered, sinking an 11-foot putt and pumping his fist.

The American side never trailed but the Canadian duo kept it tight. The U.S. led 2-up thru 10 when Conners, who had made four bogeys before converting his first birdie at 13, drained a 33-foot putt to knot the match again. It stayed that way until 17, when Pendrith rimmed out a 19-foot birdie and Homa came through in the clutch. — Schupak

2022 Presidents Cup
2022 Presidents Cup

Max Homa of the United States Team celebrates winning the 17th hole during Friday four-ball matches on day two of the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Country Club on September 23, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek