Johnson gives U.S. a 5-point lead at Presidents Cup
Dublin, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Zach Johnson eagled the 15th hole to close out his match Saturday afternoon and give the United States a five-point lead at The Presidents Cup.
Johnson and Jason Dufner were 2-down after six holes against Richard Sterne and Marc Leishman. The Americans won six of eight holes from the eighth to roll to a 4 & 3 win.
That pushed the United States' lead over the Internationals to 11 1/2 - 6 1/2.
"The two guys to the right of me, I've very proud of. I sat one in the morning and he went out and got an unbelievable win, and I I sat the other one in the afternoon, who got an unbelievable win," said U.S. captain Fred Couples about Hunter Mahan and Dufner. "On a team like this, it's never fun to (sit guys). I don't have much to say, except, really in the morning, we played extremely well and then Zach and Dufner to flip that match around, it seemed like it flipped a couple other matches our way."
Parts of three sessions were played on Saturday after weather halted action on Friday at Muirfield Village. The Friday foursomes session wrapped up with the teams splitting the final four matches.
Saturday's four-ball session was completed despite another weather delay, and the Americans claimed four of the five matches to push their lead to four.
All five foursome matches made it to the back nine before play was halted for the day Saturday. The round will resume at 7:35 a.m. (ET) on Sunday. The singles matches are now scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. as they try to finish before more bad weather moves in later on Sunday.
"This afternoon we got off to a really good start. The front nine, I think we were up in all the games for a while there, but the U.S. team started making some putts and some great shots. I still think we're in pretty good shape," said International captain Nick Price. "If we could turn one of the games around tomorrow, there's a chance we could get within 3 1/2 or four points and that would make our lives a little bit easier heading into the singles."
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were 3-down after five holes, but when play was halted they were all square with Jason Day and Graham DeLaet through 13 holes.
Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are 3-up through 12 holes against the American duo of Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker. The Americans have yet to win a hole in that match.
With Jordan Spieth sitting on the foursomes session, Steve Stricker teamed with Bill Haas and they were 2-up through 10 holes versus Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, who have paired together in all four sessions.
Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge, who are also playing their fourth straight session together, were 2-up through nine holes against Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar, who have also played together in all four sessions.
Leishman made par on the fourth and birdie on the sixth to go 2-up. Johnson birdied the eighth from three feet out, and followed with another birdie on the ninth to square the match.
Dufner birdied the 11th and when Leishman missed a par putt on the 13th, the Americans were 2-up. Dufner drained another birdie chance at 14, before Johnson holed out for eagle on 15. Leishman had a chance to halve the hole, but his eagle chip from a greenside bunker came up short and the match was over.
"What turned it around is what we witnessed numerous times with (Dufner's) iron play. He got the radar locked on about three or four shots and we started to capitalize," Johnson said. "We didn't play that bad early on, we just didn't score. We scored mid-round, and obviously late."
Day and DeLaet made par on the first and that was enough to win the hole. Day birdied the third and his eagle try at five lipped out, but the conceded birdie was enough to give the Internationals a 3-up lead.
Mickelson drained a 20-footer for birdie at the eighth to trim the margin to 2-down. Bradley birdied the 11th, and when DeLaet missed his birdie try, the Americans were 1-down. Mickelson made a clutch bogey putt to halve the 12th.
DeLaet missed a 7-footer for par at 13 and that squared the match. Both teams had reached the 14th green, but decided to hit the putts in the morning.
Oosthuizen's birdie putt at the second was conceded, then he made par at three to go 2-up. Schwartzel holed a bunker shot for birdie at eight to move 3-up and the teams halved the next four before play was called after they finished the 12th.
Matsuyama and Stricker missed putts at one and two as the teams split the two holes. The teams then traded wins at four and five, before Haas rolled in a birdie try on the sixth to give the Americans a 1-up lead.
Stricker birdied the eighth and Haas made a par putt on nine to give the Americans a 3-up advantage. Matsuyama rolled in a birdie effort at 10 to get back within 2-down before play stopped after both teams played their second at the 11th.
Kuchar missed a 20-foot par try at the first to give the Internationals a 1-up lead. Els lagged an eagle effort to tap-in range on No. 5 to go 2-up. The Americans birdied the seventh to get one back, but Els drained a 14-footer for birdie at the eighth to regain a 2-up lead.
After both teams found the 10th green with their approach shots, play was called for the day.
NOTES: Woods and Kuchar are 3-0, but will need to rally to become the second duo ever to go 4-0 at one Presidents Cup ... Joining Spieth on the sidelines in the foursomes session were Hunter Mahan, Angel Cabrera and Branden Grace.
10/05 21:02:31 ET