Incheon, Korea: Bae Sang-moon maintained his magical run while Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace matched the best partnership record in Presidents Cup history as the International Team trailed the United States by one point with today’s singles session remaining.
The Internationals, who have won the Presidents Cup only once in 10 editions, matched the Americans blow for blow as Saturday’s four foursomes and four fourball sessions ended in ties which left the US ahead by 9.5 to 8.5, the closest margin since 2005.
Grace and Oosthuizen, who grew up in the same area in South Africa, defeated Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed in their morning’s foursomes before subduing Bubba Watson and JB Holmes 1-up, with the fourball match ending in darkness at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.
An inspired Bae, a multiple winner on the Asian Tour and PGA Tour, duly repaid captain Nick Price’s faith in selecting him as a pick by raising his points tally to 2.5 from three matches.
With partner Hideki Matsuyama, they halved their foursomes match with Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar, with Bae producing some spectacular shots, including a chip-in birdie on 15 after Kuchar had holed a long birdie putt to keep their match all square.
Later, the Asian duo teamed up again to soundly defeat Chris Kirk and Jimmy Walker 6 & 5, with Bae knocking in three straight birdies from seven and Matsuyama contributing two birdies immediately after the turn to gain the upper hand.
Bae, who will begin a mandatory two-year military service after the Presidents Cup, was estatic with his performance with Matsuyama. “I’m really glad to be here, because a lot of Korean people are coming out and supporting the International Team. It really means a lot,” he said.
“There’re a lot of guys yelling, ‘Sangmoon Bae, keep it up’. It really helps me. I’m a little nervous because everybody is looking at me and a lot of eyes are on me. But I have to play good.”
Oosthuizen paid tribute to Grace, who closed out their match after a majestic approach into the par-five 18th in near darkness set up the winning birdie.
“I give everything to this man. He was unbelievable. The chip-in on 16 (which put them 1-up), and the second on 18, he just showed that he’s a world-class player and there’s no moment too big for him. He’s going to be a really great player and I was so honoured to play with him for three days,” said Oosthuizen.
Price tipped his cap to his top performing duo, who tied Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker’s record of four wins in 2009. He said: “They’ve been stars of our team. They’ve set the pace. Every day, they love being out in front and running out there. What a day of golf, some unbelievable golf played in conditions like a British Open with the cold and wind. The guys kept making birdies, it was phenomenal. Tomorrow, each and every one of my team members have to go out and play good golf.”
American captain Jay Haas said: “It looked like the International had the upper hand and we had to come back. The tie was pretty amazing. Moon and Hideki were nine-under in the first 11 holes; Branden and Louis were also 10 or 11 through 18 holes but I’m proud with my guys who hung in there. We’re excited for tomorrow.”
World number two Jason Day said the Internationals would be fired up in the singles session as they look to emulate their lone win recorded in 1998 in Melbourne.
“We’ve got good momentum. We’re only one back. It’s been close. This is the closest that I’ve been ever since I’ve played The Presidents Cup,” said Day, who has yet to record a win this week.
Oosthuizen, who was picked by Price to face Patrick Reed in the first singles, added: “We’re motivated. We need to win a Presidents Cup. I think that everyone on the team feels that way. We want to win one for Adam (Scott), we want to win one for Pricey, and we want to win one for ourselves.
“We’ve got nothing to lose. We’re going out with guns blazing and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. We’re going up against great, great players, so we need to do that to be able to try and win it.”
Sunday’s Singles Draw (US first)
9:15 am: Patrick Reed vs Louis Oosthuizen
9:27 am: Rickie Fowler vs Adam Scott
9:39 am: Dustin Johnson vs Danny Lee
9:51 am: J. B. Holmes vs Hideki Matsuyama
10:03 am: Bubba Watson vs Thongchai Jaidee
10:15 am: Jimmy Walker vs Steven Bowditch
10:27 am: Phil Mickelson vs Charl Schwartzel
10:39 am: Chris Kirk vs Anirban Lahiri
10:51 pm: Jordan Spieth vs Marc Leishman
11:03 pm: Zach Johnson vs Jason Day
11:15 pm: Matt Kuchar vs Branden Grace
11:27 pm: Bill Haas vs Sangmoon Bae